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Working longer as state pension age rises

People in their 20s, 30s and 40s can expect to work for longer before they can claim a state pension.

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor indicated that the pension age would rise to 68 by the mid 2030s, and 69 in the mid 2040s.

How could these changes affect us, as individuals and a society?

It was a topic for debate on this month's Around The House, with the Sunderland Central Labour MP Julie Elliott, Redcar Liberal Democrat MP Ian Swales and Rory Stewart, who represents Penrith and the Border for the Conservatives.

Watch the discussion here:


The dementia debate

800,000 people across the UK are living with dementia. This week, at a summit in London, the G8 nations pledged to work together to tackle the condition.

In a debate for our political programme, Around The House, the Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, acknowledged that society is 'playing catch-up' where dementia is concerned.

Both he, and the North West Durham MP Pat Glass agreed that improving care for people with dementia, and their carers, is a top priority.

Watch the full debate here:

The North East's newest MP talks jobs, Prince William and speaking out about dyspraxia

The North East's newest MP Emma Lewell-Buck has enjoyed a whirlwind year. In May she was elected to represent the South Shields constituency.

Since then she has been made a Parliamentary Private Secretary and has spoken about living with the condition dyspraxia.

She talked to Helen Ford for our political programme, Around The House. Watch the full interview here:

"I'm in good company with Einstein" - North East MP on living with Dyspraxia

On tonight's edition of Around The House, South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck tells Helen Ford why she decided to speak up about having dyspraxia, and how the condition affects daily life at Westminster:

You can see the full interview on Around The House tonight (Thursday 12 December) at 11.40pm on ITV.

Dyspraxia Foundation Helpline: 01462 454986 (Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm).

Around The House: Tonight at 11.40pm on ITV

Around The House at 11.40pm on ITV Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

In December's political programme, Helen Ford talks to the region's newest MP Emma Lewell-Buck about the whirlwind start to her career.

Also - the challenge of dementia care, and the young adults who are facing 50 years in the workplace before they can retire.

And, as the world mourns Nelson Mandela, our panel of MPs considers the lessons of his life for politicians the world over.


New Government dementia money is welcome but not enough, says Newcastle University expert

Scientists at Newcastle University could play a leading role in new Government efforts to deal with the increase of dementia. David Cameron has announced new money for research into the illness, and the University has many of the country's recognised experts in the condition.

But even with the new resources, Dr Lynn Corner from the University believes much more needs to be done.

Tyneside man in 12-month charity challenge

A 44-year-old father from Tyneside is pushing himself to the limits in a bid to raise money for Alzheimer's Society by completing a series of challenges in 12 months.

Steve Cummings has already lost his long locks, run 600 miles and cycled 1,919 miles in the name of the dementia charity.

Steve is on a mission to help Alzheimer's Society to say thank you for the help his family have received since his mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2009.

The charity offered him guidance and advice to help "through the quagmire that is dealing with somebody with Alzheimer's", says Steve.

"I would have been really struggling had it not been for the invaluable help that the lovely people from the Alzheimer's Society gave me when my mum had dementia so I feel it's payback time.

"I didn't have the skills I needed to support someone with dementia. I was totally out of my comfort zone. The staff were brilliant. They got us through some of the harder points and without the society I would have been lost."

– Steve Cummings

In his latest challenge Steve pedalled from Whitehaven to Sunderland in a 135 mile coast-to-coast cycle challenge.

He is scheduled to complete five more challenges before the end of August.

Among others, he is taking on the 63-mile Cyclone Challenge, the Great North 10k and the Great North Bike Ride.

"It's September when it gets really tough though.

"In the first two weeks of the month I've got the Darlington Hell of the North (101 mile bike ride), and the Alzheimer's Society London to Brussels cycle (230 miles), followed by a 100 mile bike ride in Scotland and then, one day later, the Great North Run.

"I've called it Hell Fortnight."

– Steve Cummings

Robot seal 'aids dementia patients'

A robotic seal has helped to improve the quality of life of dementia sufferers, according to a Northumbria University study.

Researchers have claimed that interacting with a robot companion made people with mid to late-stage dementia less anxious and also had a positive influence on their lives.

Academics from the UK, Australia and Germany have been investigating the effect that PARO the robotic harp seal has on dementia patients.

PARO is fitted with artificial intelligence software and sensors that respond to touch and sound - and help it to show emotions like surprise, happiness and anger.

It can also learn its own name and learns to respond to words that its owner uses frequently.

The pilot showed that the robots had a clinically meaningful influence including increased levels of pleasure and also reduced anxiety.

"Our study provides important preliminary support for the idea that robots may present a supplement to activities currently in use and could enhance the life of older adults as therapeutic companions and, in particular, for those with moderate or severe cognitive impairment.

"There is a need for further research, with a larger sample size, and an argument for investing in interventions such as PARO robots which may reduce dementia-related behaviours that make the provision of care challenging as well as costly due to increased use of staff resources and pharmaceutical treatment."

– Professor Glenda Cook, Professor of Nursing at Northumbria University
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