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Archive for July, 2013

More access points for Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund

Elderly men playing chess in Chinatown (Photo/ Lim)

Singaporeans who want to tap into the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund can now do so at 114 access points at restructured hospitals, community hospitals and seniors activity centres.

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans who want to tap into the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund can now do so at more places.

There are now 114 access points at restructured hospitals, community hospitals and seniors activity centres.

The fund, which aims to help seniors remain mobile and live independently, was enhanced to S$50 million during Budget 2013. Since July 1, 700 applications have been approved.

Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor explained: “We have implemented a simplified means-testing framework for the elderly living in three-room HDB flats and smaller so that they can automatically receive subsidies for assistive devices that cost less than $500. We have also expanded the use of the fund to also include consumables for a limited number of seniors who are receiving home healthcare services.”

As part of the government’s efforts to help Singaporeans age gracefully, Marine Parade was chosen for a pilot programme to implement various initiatives to help Singaporeans age in the community.

If these programmes are successful in Marine Parade, they will be implemented in different parts of Singapore. So far, there has been good progress in the pilot project in Marine Parade.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who is also MP for Marine Parade, said the government is trying to make Singapore a senior-friendly country and so he offered Marine Parade to be piloted for programmes on ageing in the community.

Mr Goh visited three flats to meet older residents who have benefitted from the seniors’ mobility fund.

He said: “If I can make Marine Parade a senior-friendly estate with a happy environment for them, likewise, we can do it for the whole of Singapore. Marine Parade has worked very well with the government to upgrade the physical features of Marine Parade into senior friendly features. Even in Marine Parade, I am now thinking of Community Integrated Care for senior citizens.

“In other words, get the community, the families, the government to see how we can approach this in total, starting with financial education, active ageing programmes, and very importantly, moving up to integrated care.”

Mr Goh said he intends to firm up the plan with agencies like People’s Association, the Health Ministry and the Social and Family Development Ministry before approaching the government for some support.

– CNA/fa

via More access points for Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund – Channel NewsAsia.

Best Free Apps Easy Calendar


Easy Calendar (4.5 stars with 1485 User Ratings) 
iPhone App 
$1.99 → Free

Note: iPad version has gone free for the first time ever. badge_appstore-lrg



Easy Calendar is an app that allows you to easily view your weekly events at a glance and input calendar events in a matter of just a few taps. Editing your apps only takes a few more taps and you can quickly jump between desired week or event views. It integrates completely with the stock iPhone and iPad calendar app, pulling in whatever you have over there as well. With iCloud, Outlook, Google Calendar, and other CalDAV calendar syncing, Easy Calendar is a versatile and easy to use alternative to the other calendar apps that just don’t measure up.

via Best Free Apps of the Day on 7/28. ConsoleCam, Easy Calendar, Boy RPG, & More! | App Chronicles.

Ice Cream Sandwiches



3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 pint ice cream (any flavor)


Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and corn syrup in another medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla; beat until combined.

Reduce mixer speed to low, add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Mix in sour cream. Form dough into a 3/4-inch-thick square, wrap tightly in plastic, and chill until firm, 2–3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment to about 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer dough (still between parchment) to a large baking sheet and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes. Remove top sheet of parchment (it will come away easily if dough is well chilled) and trim to a 14×10-inch rectangle. Bake cookie until dry and just set at edges, 8–10 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack; let cookie cool.

Trim cookie to a 12×9-inch rectangle, then cut into twelve 3-inch squares. Scoop ice cream into a medium bowl and mix just until softened, 2–3 minutes. Turn 6 cookies bottom side up. Dividing evenly, scoop ice cream on top and flatten slightly; top with remaining cookies, pressing down gently. Place sandwiches on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. Cut sandwiches in half on a diagonal to make triangles. Wrap in parchment, if desired, and freeze until ready to serve.

DO AHEAD: Ice cream sandwiches can be made 1 week ahead. Keep frozen.

via Ice Cream Sandwiches Recipe: Bon Appétit.

Mentally ill people ‘hit hard by recession’

People with mental health problems are more likely to end up unemployed in a recession


The economic recession across Europe has had a profound impact on people with mental health problems, research from King’s College London suggests.

Between 2006 and 2010, the rate of unemployment for those with mental health problems rose twice as much as for other people – from 12.7% to 18.2%.

Men and those with low levels of education were particularly affected, the study said.

The authors warn that social exclusion could increase among the mentally ill.

Scientists collected data from 20,000 people across 27 EU countries using the Eurobarometer survey, which looked at mental health, attitudes to those with mental health problems and current employment rate.

It’s harder for people to get a job if there’s already a gap on their CV.”

Dr Sara Evans-LackoInstitute of Psychiatry

For those without mental health problems, the unemployment rate increased from 7.1% in 2006 to 9.8% in 2010 – half the increase compared with the previous group.

In addition, the study identified that men with mental health problems were particularly vulnerable. The unemployment rate for this group increased from 13.7% in 2006 to 21.7% in 2010.


The researchers, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, found that negative attitudes to people with mental health problems were a factor in the rise in unemployment.

The study said: “Living in a country where a higher proportion of individuals believe that individuals with mental illness are dangerous was associated with a higher likelihood of unemployment for people with mental health problems, but did not influence employment rates for those without mental health problems.”

It is thought that unemployed people with mental health problems may also be less likely to seek help and and may need specific outreach support.

Dr Sara Evans-Lacko, lead study author and lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, said the study did not have unemployment rates for individual EU countries. She suggested the trend was a general one across Europe which was not specific to any one culture.

“During a recession people who already have mental health problems find their economic and social position gets worse.

“We don’t exactly know why, but it’s harder for people to get a job if there’s already a gap on their CV and if employers need to cut staff then these people might be more vulnerable.”

The danger is that economic hardship can intensify the social exclusion of vulnerable people, such as those with mental health problems, the study said.

‘Legal duty’

Prof Graham Thornicroft, also from the research team at the Institute of Psychiatry, said there were steps which could be taken to prevent this happening.

Mental well-being depends on many factors, including employment status, working conditions and financial security, all of which can be affected during a recession.”

Beth MurphyMind

“Governments need to be aware of these risks, and employers need to be aware of their legal duty to comply with the Equality Act to support people with mental health problems coming into, and staying in, employment,” he said.

Beth Murphy, head of information at mental health charity Mind, said the findings were worrying.

“Mental well-being depends on many factors, including employment status, working conditions and financial security, all of which can be affected during a recession.

“Since 2008, the Mind Infoline has received an increasing number of enquiries from people concerned about the impact of money and unemployment on their mental health, which could well be attributed to the economic downturn.

“Specifically, redundancy is known to trigger depression and suicidal thoughts, as is the case with debt.”

She added: “Losing your job is a sudden change and there can also be financial implications through loss of income, which in itself can cause anxiety. We’d urge anybody struggling with their mental health to seek support.”

via BBC News – Mentally ill people ‘hit hard by recession’.

‘Boarding’ increases hospital stays and spreads infections, researchers say.

A reduction in bed numbers and an increase in hospital admissions has led to boarding becoming more common


Moving patients between wards results in them staying in hospital longer and increases the risk of infections spreading, researchers have warned.

Dundee University researchers examined boarding – where a patient is moved from a specialist ward to a ward treating different conditions.

They claim a reduction in bed numbers and a rise in hospital admissions had led to this becoming more common.

This was especially the case among older patients.

Prof Marion McMurdo and Dr Miles Witham, from the university’s school of medicine, said that while boarding was sometimes viewed as a “necessary evil”, it appeared to be a “false economy”.

Regrettably, frail and vulnerable elderly patients, admitted to hospital as a result of serious illness and requiring specialist medical care, are disproportionately affected by boarding”

Dr Neil DewhurstRCPE

Prof McMurdo said: “Boarding is sometimes viewed as a necessary evil – at least compared to the alternative of having no bed in which to admit patients from the overflowing acute admissions unit.

“Yet, at a systems level, boarding appears to be a false economy – every ward move increases length of stay, thus exacerbating the very problem that boarding attempts to circumvent.

“Worse still, frequent moves around a hospital are likely to increase the risk of infection transmission, a factor trusts have been advised to incorporate into bed management policies.”

Dr Neil Dewhurst, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE), said it would “strongly support today’s call to reduce unnecessary ward moves in the elderly”.

He said: “Regrettably, frail and vulnerable elderly patients, admitted to hospital as a result of serious illness and requiring specialist medical care, are disproportionately affected by boarding. This involves placing patients in non-specialised wards due to bed shortages.

“Such patients are likely to be the least likely to be able to cope with repeated ward moves.”

‘Vicious circle’

He added: “There is evidence that this can increase their length of stay, their likelihood of readmission to hospital and reduce their likelihood of continuing to live independently at home. This, in turn, creates a vicious circle and places further pressure on already over-stretched hospital services.”

He said there were currently insufficient properly-supported acute beds in Scottish hospitals to ensure that such patients were treated in the right wards by the right medical staff at the right time.

He added that the RCPE was working with the Scottish government to reduce boarding and would be developing guidance for the NHS in Scotland, to be published later this year.

The Dundee research has been published in the journal Age and Ageing and says changes of environment can increase the risk of both falls and delirium among patients – problems associated with a greater risk of serious injury and increased death rates.

Dr Witham said a survey of medical staff had shown that 92% of doctors would “refuse to have a relative of theirs boarded out”, adding: “This hardly inspires confidence in the quality of care received by patients who are moved around the hospital environment.”

Daily reviews

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “Effective management of patient flows through their time in hospital is one of our priorities.

“Scotland is the first country in the UK to deal with the issue of boarding to further improve the quality of care in our hospitals.

“In December we adopted a new collaborative work programme between the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) and NHS Scotland that will address the practice known as ‘boarding’.

“This work has already begun and is proving productive. However, there is more to be done and this will involve reviewing the number and speciality type of beds for acute care, ensuring that there are enough medical consultants and nurses and having daily reviews of patients by consultants.”

Labour health spokesman Neil Findlay said: “SNP choices have led to cuts to nursing staff, a scandal over fiddled waiting times and the loss of hundreds of hospital beds.

“This isn’t sustainable and there has to be a better strategy to cope with the increasing demands on services that alleviates pressure on overworked staff but also gives patients the care and respect they deserve.”

via BBC News – ‘Boarding’ increases hospital stays and spreads infections, researchers say..

Alzheimer’s blood test edges closer

Alzheimer’s is a growing problem as people live longer


Researchers believe they are closer to developing a blood test that could diagnose Alzheimer’s.

There is no definitive test for the brain-wasting disease. Doctors rely on cognition tests and brain scans.

A technique published in the journal Genome Biology showed differences in the tiny fragments of genetic material floating in the blood could be used to identify patients.

The test was accurate 93% of the time in trials on 202 people.

One of the main goals of Alzheimer’s research is to find ways of detecting the disease earlier.

It starts years before symptoms appear and it is thought that future treatments will need to be given before large parts of the brain are destroyed. This will require new ways of testing for the condition.

The team at the Saarland University, in Germany, analysed 140 microRNAs (fragments of genetic code) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and in healthy people.

They found 12 microRNAs in the blood which were present in markedly different levels in people with Alzheimer’s. These became the basis of their test.

Early trials showed it was successful and was “able to distinguish with high diagnostic accuracies between Alzheimer’s disease patients and healthy” people.

However, more research to improve accuracy and to see whether it would work in the clinic is still needed before the test would be considered as a way of diagnosing patients.

Dr Eric Karran, from the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This is an interesting approach to studying changes in blood in Alzheimer’s and suggests that microRNAs could be playing a role in the disease.

“The findings highlight the importance of continuing research efforts to understand the contribution of microRNAs to Alzheimer’s, but the translation of this into a blood test for Alzheimer’s in the clinic is still some way off.

“A blood test to help detect Alzheimer’s could be a useful addition to a doctor’s diagnostic armoury, but such a test must be well validated before it’s considered for use. We need to see these findings confirmed in larger samples and more work is needed to improve the test’s ability to distinguish Alzheimer’s from other neurological conditions.”

via BBC News – Alzheimer’s blood test edges closer.

Testicular cancer survival rates ‘soaring’ in UK

Growing awareness of the cancer is believed to be partly behind the rise

The overwhelming majority of men with testicular cancer are now surviving for at least 10 years, figures released by the charity Cancer Research UK show.

They show survival rates in the UK soared to 96% in 2009, much higher than in the early 70s when 68% survived.

The organisation said attention needed to be focused now on the remaining 4%.

Experts said that changes in treatments offered as well as a growing awareness of testicular cancer could explain the improved survival figures.

Around 2,300 people are diagnosed with the cancer each year in the UK. The main symptom is a lump or swelling in the testicles.

Survival rates have made significant progress since the 70s and reached 90% by the start of the 90s.

‘Success story’

Dr Harpal Kumar, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “A clear success story in cancer research has been the drug cisplatin, which our scientists helped to develop.

“This is helping almost all men with testicular cancer to beat the disease and is a shining example of what we can achieve through dedicated research.

“For some types of cancer, the word ‘cure’ is almost a reality – 96% of men with testicular cancer are now cured. But it’s important we recognise the four per cent who aren’t surviving the disease, as well as the fact that we still need treatments to be kinder to patients in the future.”

Katherine Mutsvangwa, from the male cancer charity Orchid, said earlier diagnosis was a important part of falling death rates.

“There has been a lot of awareness of testicular cancer in the time. Men are presenting earlier, before it has spread to other parts of the body.”

She said the 4% of patients who were not surviving tended to be diagnosed much later or with “much more aggressive” testicular cancer.

via BBC News – Testicular cancer survival rates ‘soaring’ in UK.

Escalator etiquette: The dos and don’ts

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, has said he always walks on escalators. Good exercise, yes, but some cities discourage it. And there’s one thing obstructing walkers – people who stand.


There are walkers and there are standers, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a walker.

In announcing a plan to make New York’s buildings more stair-friendly, the mayor said he always walks on escalators.

Most escalator walking happens at underground stations – people don’t tend to be in such a hurry in a shopping centre, for instance.

But Bloomberg is still in a minority of escalator users around the world. In London, about 25% of people on the Tube walk on the escalators and in Shanghai only about 3%, according to a study.

And in some countries, walking on escalators is discouraged. On the Toronto subway system, signs that encouraged people to walk on the left were removed at the recommendation of safety experts.

Gripes – the big three

  • Standing on wrong side
  • Luggage in walking lane
  • Stopping when disembarking

A ban was also considered for Tokyo’s transport system but never enforced. And in the UK, people of a certain age will remember the chilling public information films of the 1970s that featured a pair of children’s blue wellington boots getting sucked into the machinery. “Stand still and don’t walk down,” it urged.

Either that message never got through or it was soon forgotten, because any such caution has melted away in the UK. There are 426 escalators on the London Underground and there’s a signposted system of standing to the right and walking to the left.

Research in 2011 by the University of Greenwich found that 75% of people at Paddington Tube station stood and the left-right rule was observed by nearly 90% of people.

But the custom varies depending where you are. The same team of researchers, led by Edwin Galea, earlier found that in Shanghai, only 2.4% walked and there was no preferred side to walk on.

Usually there is a walking lane on busy subway escalators, says Galea, and it’s not clear if the Shanghai free-for-all reflected a cultural phenomenon or was simply people getting to grips with what was a new station and escalator.

Grigny station in Paris
Get stuck behind this lot and you’ve missed your train

Most escalators across the world that do have a standing/walking system follow the “walk on the left” custom, to speed up the flow. One of the exceptions is Australia, where people walk on the right.

It’s interesting that so many countries walk left, says Galea, but no-one’s quite sure why. “It could be a random effect, it could be a copy effect, or it could have something to do with the side of the road we drive on. It could be some kind of rationalisation based on this.”

A walker’s view

“You’re too tired to walk? Counterpoint: no, you’re not. How did you get in this subway station to begin with? Were you hauled here in a wheelbarrow? How do you move about the city? Are you carried by the scruff of your neck in your mother’s mouth like a wayward puppy? I suspect that, no, you walk. You walked here. You can walk down the escalator. All of us are tired, you see. That is why we don’t want to spend any more time in this train station than is absolutely necessary. That is why we want to catch the first available train – the train that is about to pull in now. Which we will miss. Because we are stuck on this escalator.”

Hamilton Nolan, Gawker

The British drive on the left and so choose to walk that side on escalators, he says, but in countries that drive on the right, the rationale could be that you drive on the right so you stand on the right.

But one thing unites all the cities that do have a system – there’s conflict when people obstruct the walking lane.

“Able-bodied people standing on the downward escalator are in effect robbing the people behind them of time,” says Hamilton Nolan, who writes for Gawker and regularly uses the New York subway.

“Their presumptuous need for leisure may cause everyone behind them to miss a train they would have otherwise caught. Then those people are forced to stand and wait on a subway platform for many extra minutes. Those are precious minutes of life that none of us will get back.”

It’s not open war, he adds, it’s a war waged in the privacy of the enraged minds of walkers who are forced to stand impatiently behind as the escalator slowly descends.

But people who stand defend themselves by telling walkers not to be so impatient, because the escalator is doing the work for them.

On one forum, a stander says: “If the person is in such a rush, why not just take the stairs? Even when the escalator is packed and there’s nowhere to move, I see these same people moaning and groaning about not being able to pass.”

There are plenty of examples online of frustrated commuters venting their anger about what they regard as anti-social behaviour. Pet gripes are people standing on the wrong side, not leaving enough space between standers, stopping at the top and blocking the way with luggage.

San Francisco artist Helen Tseng summed up the gripes in one illustration commissioned by a website called The Bold Italic.

Helen Tseng's illustration
Illustration by Helen Tseng for the Bold Italic website

Her picture, published in January, was widely picked up by other media and she thinks the subject tapped into something that people were unconsciously thinking – the etiquette of escalator travel. “Going on escalators is a universal thing, analogous to traffic, and people get traffic rage too.”

In Toronto, that tension has been diffused since the signs telling people to walk on the left were removed, says commuter Tom Robertson. “You can tell some people get a little annoyed when they are standing behind someone on the left but I’ve never seen anyone say anything about it. I think many people have forgotten about the signs.”

A spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission said he could not recall any escalator accidents in Toronto.

Indeed, injuries and fatalities on escalators are rare. In Beijing, one died and dozens were injured in 2011 when an escalator suddenly changed direction and threw them off balance. Other cases have involved people being entrapped by clothes or hair, but deaths are very rare.

Despite the blue wellingtons being chewed up in the film, the chance of a stray shoelace or skirt getting caught in the gap between moving steps is minimum, says David Chan of University College London, who researched safety when he designed a curved escalator.

But if you really want to avoid escalators, you should move to Wyoming.

The US state has only two escalators, both in a bank.

via BBC News – Escalator etiquette: The dos and don’ts.

隨時「乾洗手」 殺死腸病毒?
































via 隨時「乾洗手」 殺死腸病毒?-上 | 20130729 | 華人健康網.

蔬果「慢慢磨」 保留更多營養?



















via 蔬果「慢慢磨」 保留更多營養? | 20130729 | 華人健康網.

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