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Archive for July, 2013

More access points for Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund

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Elderly men playing chess in Chinatown (Photo/channelnewsasia.com/Francine 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.

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

Ice Cream Sandwiches

ice-cream-sandwiches-646

INGREDIENTS

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)

PREPARATION

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.

Stigma

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.

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