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BOSTON (AP) — The 171-year-old candy maker known for its chalky Necco Wafers and those little inscribed hearts that are everywhere on Valentine’s Day was sold in bankruptcy court Wednesday.

The Ohio-based Spangler Candy Co. had the winning $18.83 million bid for the New England Confectionery Co., or Necco, at a federal bankruptcy auction in Boston.

The deal from the company that makes Dum Dums lollipops will most likely ensure a future, at least in the short term, for some of the nation’s most familiar candies.

‘‘They’re a crowd favorite,’’ said Chris Baker, who sells Necco candies at his Old Country Store & Emporium in Mansfield, Massachusetts. ‘‘I like to see our traditions continue. Any time we lose one, it’s a loss for all of us. And this is something that everybody’s had a million times.’’

Charles Krupa / AP, File

Necco’s court-appointed bankruptcy trustee, Harry Murphy, said the company’s suitors were mainly interested in its ‘‘sugar line’’ — its tubes of wafers, sheets of candy dots, and the conversation hearts popular on Valentine’s Day for phrases such as BE MINE.

The future of Necco’s other products — including the chocolate Sky Bar, the Clark Bar and peanut butter-flavored Mary Jane chews — remains unclear, he said. The company would continue to be run out of its longtime headquarters in Revere, just north of Boston.

Necco, which calls itself the oldest continuously operating candy company in the U.S., couldn’t keep pace with multinational competitors.

In March, it announced it would close its plant and lay off hundreds of workers if it couldn’t find a buyer. Last month, it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying it owed creditors millions.

Complicating matters, the Food and Drug Administration warned Necco on May 16 that its inspectors found rodent excrement ‘‘too numerous to count’’ at its main plant.

Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe, File

The warning that the company might go out of business triggered a run on Necco Wafers and other candies. A Florida woman even offered her 2003 Honda Accord for the entire wafer inventory held by Candystore.com, an online distributor. (The company brushed off what it dubbed ‘‘The Great Necco Wafer Panic’’ and turned down the offer.)

Necco traces its roots to 1847, and it’s an immigration success story. Oliver Chase, a young English newcomer, invented a lozenge cutter. Sales of his candy took off, and he and his brother, Silas, founded Chase and Co., which morphed into Necco.

Union soldiers fighting in the Civil War carried Necco Wafers, the company says. So did GIs during World War II; the War Department bought them by the caseload and sent them to Europe and the Pacific because they didn’t melt and seldom broke during shipping.

In 1913, the Arctic explorer Donald Baxter MacMillan handed them out to Eskimo children. In the 1930s, Adm. Richard Byrd included 2½ tons of wafers on a supply list for a two-year expedition in Antarctica.

And Roman Catholics joke that they’re the communion wafer of candy.

Critics insist they taste like antacid tablets, baby aspirin or chalk. But they have a certain old-school charm: pale, dusty candy discs packaged like a roll of coins and wrapped in wax paper.

‘‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as beautiful as the production of the Necco Wafer,’’ said Steve Almond, author of ‘‘Candyfreak,’’ a best-selling book about America’s confectionery industry.

‘‘The street smelled like wafers when they were making them. The floors were a mosaic of broken wafers — all eight of those different colors. It was a beautiful thing.’’

Sweethearts, too, have become sentimental favorites since they began being stamped with pithy phrases in 1902. LOVE YOU, OOH LA LA and MARRY ME are classics, and over the decades, they’ve been joined by DIG ME, FAX ME and, more recently, TWEET ME, TEXT ME and BFF.

The 19th-century company has kept pace in other ways: In 2016, a Sweethearts online ad featured two gay men in their 80s, and Clark bars have made cameos in at least three episodes of ‘‘Seinfeld.’’

Even so, Almond takes a fatalistic view of Necco’s future.

‘‘The story of Necco is in some ways the story of American commerce and American culture,’’ he said. ‘‘As sentimental as we might be about Necco Wafers, unless tons of people buy them, they’re going to struggle. This is how capitalism works.’’

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress delivered a victory to President Donald Trump by expanding private care for veterans as an alternative to the troubled Veterans Affairs health system.

The Senate cleared the bill on a 92-5 vote on Wednesday, also averting a disastrous shutdown of its Choice private-sector program. The program is slated to run out of money as early as next week, causing disruptions in care.

The sweeping measure would allow veterans to see private doctors when they do not receive the treatment they expected, with the approval of a Department of Veterans Affairs health provider. Veterans could access private care when they have endured lengthy wait times or VA medical centers do not offer the services they need.

The bill’s approval comes despite concerns from some Democrats that the effort would prove costly and be used too broadly by veterans in search of top-notch care even when the VA is able to provide treatment deemed sufficient for their needs.

The VA secretary will have wide leeway in implementing the legislation, which leaves it up to VA to determine what is “quality” care. Trump said last week he will nominate acting VA secretary Robert Wilkie to permanently lead the government’s second largest department serving 9 million veterans. Democrats say they intend to question Wilkie on whether he plans to “privatize” or degrade the VA health system, an issue that former VA Secretary David Shulkin says led to his firing in March.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, the Republican chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, lauded the bill as a big step toward providing veterans with “more choice and fewer barriers to care.”

Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the veterans panel, said the plan will also boost VA health care by paying off higher amounts of student loan debt for doctors who agree to work in high-need VA positions, requiring improvement plans in communities with few hospitals and creating a pilot program that would send medical personnel to help fill shortages.

“The best defense against any effort to privatize the VA or send veterans in a wholesale fashion to the private sector is to make sure the VA is living up to its promise,” he said.

Trump has made clear he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk before Memorial Day. The House passed it on a 347-70 vote last week.

The Senate supported the bill that would create a presidentially-appointed commission to review the closure of underperforming VA facilities. House Democrats had sought restrictions on the commission but were rebuffed by House Republicans and the White House.

It would also expand a VA caregivers program to cover families of veterans of all eras, not just the families of veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

The $51 billion bill provides for a newly combined “community care” program that includes Choice and other VA programs of outside care. It could face escalating costs due to growing demand from veterans seeking the convenience of seeing private physicians. Some House Democrats warn the VA won’t be able to handle a growing price tag, putting the VA at risk of unexpected budget shortfalls next year.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a former chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, criticized the bill as moving the VA “too far in the direction of privatization.” He noted that it would not provide any money to fill more than 30,000 positions at the VA that the Trump administration has left vacant.

“My fear is that this bill will open the door to the draining, year after year, of much needed resources from the VA,” he said.

The measure builds on legislation passed in 2014 in response to a wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments.

It aims to steer more patients to the private sector to relieve pressure at VA hospitals, thus improving veterans care at VA facilities and with private providers alike. Patients could also access private walk-in clinics, such as MinuteClinics, to treat minor illnesses or injury if they used VA health care in the last two years.

The legislation would loosen Choice’s restrictions that limit outside care only when a veteran must wait 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility. Currently, more than 30 percent of VA appointments are in the private sector.

A broad array of veterans’ groups supported the bill. The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans group, says the plan will “strengthen veterans’ health care for future generations while ensuring that veterans’ caregivers of all generations get the support they deserve.”

The conservative Concerned Veterans for America, a long-time advocate of expanding private care for veterans, called the measure a “very big deal.” Still, executive director Dan Caldwell stresses the “top priority for the VA secretary is ensuring it will be implemented properly.”

___

Follow Hope Yen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hopeyen1

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Wearing sunscreen is important on a daily basis, but it is even more imperative that you apply (and reapply!) sunscreen while swimming or playing sports outdoors.

As a dermatologist, I often get asked questions like, “Which sunscreen is the best for outdoor activities and swimming?” While there is no single best answer to this question, there are a few guidelines you can follow when choosing a sunscreen for outdoor fun this summer.

Choose Physical Sunscreen When Possible

In previous columns, I have touched on the differences between physical and chemical sunscreens, as well as the potential for allergic reactions and absorption into the bloodstream with chemical SPFs. Try to choose a physical sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, rather than chemical ingredients like oxybenzone and octyl methoxycinnamate.

Dr. Leslie Baumann.jpg

Oxybenzone has been found to be bad for coral and was recently banned in Hawaii. Many people have an allergy to octyl methoxycinnamate. Another popular chemical sunscreen, avobenzone, is known to cause eye irritation and burning.

Instead of a chemical sunscreen, look for a physical sunscreen such as EltaMD Physical SPF, PCA Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF, Obagi Sunshield, or Neutrogena Sheer Zinc that use zinc as the sun protection ingredient. If you play golf, tennis or other sports where you don’t want your hands to become greasy and slippery from reapplying your sunscreen, use a spray SPF. However, you might want to have a lotion or stick on hand for your face, since a spray can get in your eyes.

If you sweat a lot or plan to be in the water, choose a “water-resistant” sunscreen. It will say “water-resistant 40 minutes” or “water-resistant 80 minutes” on the bottle. This means that it has been tested according to FDA standards and shown to keep your skin protected for either 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or excessive sweating. You still need to reapply water-resistant sunscreens after getting in the water. It is better to pat the skin dry than rub with a towel because rubbing removes most of the sunscreen from the skin.

Try an Antioxidant Supplement

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in sunny summer months, you can take an antioxidant supplement like Heliocare for added UV protection. It contains a fern extract called polypodium leucotomos, which has been shown to reduce skin inflammation and redness caused by sun exposure. However, you still need to apply SPF to your skin, even if you add an antioxidant supplement to your diet.

Don’t Forget Your Lips

Unlike the rest of your skin, your lips do not produce sebum (oil), which naturally contains vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Therefore, your lips need all the sun protection they can get, so don’t forget to apply a lip balm that contains SPF. Again, it is best to choose a physical SPF for your lips, because we end up ingesting as much as 70 percent of the products we put on our lips, especially when swimming or sweating from sports. I love the lip sunscreens by Fresh, Coola, Burt’s Bees and Paula’s Choice.

Bottom line

There is no single best sunscreen for water sports and outdoor activities. However, it is important to choose your sunscreen based on what you’ll be doing that day. For example, you wouldn’t necessarily use the same 80-minute water-resistant sunscreen with a high SPF for daily use when you don’t plan to be outside for more than 30 minutes. In the same regard, you shouldn’t use your daily SPF15 when you plan to be out on the golf course for 18 holes.

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Is peanut butter healthy? Nutrition experts have long debated the question, given peanut butter’s high fat content. But when its full nutritional profile is considered, to many, the answer is yes.

“It really is a healthy food,” says registered dietitian Lisa Sasson, a clinical professor in the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University. “There are so many reasons to keep it in your pantry or bring it to work, if you like the taste.”

One major reason is that peanut butter has “a great nutritional package” with protein, fiber and many minerals and vitamins, says Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Two tablespoons have about 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Thanks to these three components, “it’s very satisfying,” says Sasson.

Here’s what else you should know about peanut butter.

Is peanut butter a ‘good’ fat?

Peanut butter’s high fat content is what gave the spread a reputation for being unhealthy, says Willett. But researchers and experts now distinguish between different types of fats, and peanut butter is a prime example of a “mostly healthy unsaturated fat,” Willett explains. Eating more of this kind of fat “will reduce blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease,” he says,especially if this replaces butter or processed meats.”

If you don’t like the taste of peanuts (or if you’re allergic to them), other nut and seed butters abound, from almond butter to cashew to sunflower seed butters. “I put them all in the healthy category,” says Willett.

What’s the healthiest kind of peanut butter to buy?

Not all peanut butters are equally good for you. The healthiest kinds contain just one or two ingredients: peanuts and salt (but not too much). Peanut butter is often a sneaky source of added sugar, so make sure there’s none listed in the ingredients. And scan the nutrition labels and avoid peanut butters that have hydrogenated oils, which are unhealthy fats that are added to keep peanut butter from separating or going bad quickly, Sasson says.

And skip jars labeled “low fat,” Sasson says; these are misleading, since they often contain “the same amount of calories and more added sugar.” While natural peanut butters may require a little stirring without the added emulsifiers and may have a bit of a shorter shelf life than versions with hydrogenated oil, keep them in a cool, dark cabinet or the refrigerator to make them last longer, Sasson says.

How much peanut butter should you eat?

A standard serving of peanut butter is just two tablespoons, so you’ll need to exercise portion control. Two tablespoons of peanut butter have about 200 calories, so it’s best to stick to a two-tablespoon portion size for a meal like a peanut butter sandwich, and a few teaspoons to a tablespoon for a snack, says Sasson.

What’s the best way to eat peanut butter?

“Very few foods are so versatile,” says Sasson: put peanut butter on apples, crackers, in baked goods, in a sandwich, or use it as a dip for bananas or other fruits. Sasson says she prefers peanut butter simply spread on whole grain toast or whole wheat cracker, while Willett’s favorite way to enjoy it is with carrot sticks as a dip or in a “flavorful and nutritious” West African peanut soup.

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An NHL prospect has revealed that a 25-inch tapeworm was hindering his performance on the ice during the winter, and detailed how he discovered the parasite.

Carson Meyer, a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect who played for Miami University last season, told The Athletic he was suffering from loss of appetite, weight loss and lack of energy. He said it wasn’t until he went to the bathroom in February that he discovered what was plaguing him.

“I was freaking out. Absolutely freaking out.”

– Carson Meyer

Meyer told the news outlet the tapeworm and all of its parts came out of him. He said it looked orange.

“I Face-timed my mom and was like, ‘What the hell is this thing?’” Meyer said. “I was freaking out. Absolutely freaking out.”

Carson’s mother, Holly, told The Athletic she had never been so horrified.

RARE BAT VIRUS KILLS AT LEAST 10 IN INDIA

“I was trying to be calm,” she said. “He showed me everything and I remember saying, you have to get that to the trainer and figure out what it is so they can get you fixed.”

Doctors believe the parasite was diphyllobothrium latum, which comes from eating undercooked fish. Meyer said he has since lost his appetite for fish. 

BABY DIAGNOSED WITH ‘MERMAID SYNDROME’ DIES 15 MINUTES AFTER BIRTH

Meyer, who hopes to transfer from Miami to Ohio State, might be forced to blame the school for the parasite if the NCAA keeps him off the ice for the 2018-19 season over its transfer rules.

The Blue Jackets drafted Meyer in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL Draft.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.



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BEIJING (AP) – A U.S. government employee in southern China reported abnormal sensations of sound and pressure, the State Department said Wednesday, recalling similar experiences among American diplomats in Cuba who later fell ill.

In an emailed notice to American citizens in China, the department said it wasn’t currently known what caused the symptoms in the city of Guangzhou, where an American consulate is located.

A U.S. government employee in China recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure,” the notice said. “The U.S. government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event.”

The department said it wasn’t aware of any similar situations in China, either within the diplomatic community or among others. It didn’t further identify the person with the symptoms or say when they had been detected.

China’s foreign ministry and National Health Commission did not immediately respond to faxed questions about the report.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking in Washington to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the medical indications of the incident in Guangzhou “are very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications of the Americans working in Havana.”

He said a medical team was being sent to Guangzhou and “we are working to figure out what took place both in Havana and Guangzhou.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. Embassy learned on Friday that the Guangzhou employee had shown clinical findings during medical testing similar to patients with mild traumatic brain injury, known commonly as a concussion. That is the same clinical finding that doctors treating the Cuba patients at the University of Philadelphia have found in those patients.

The Guangzhou worker started experiencing “a variety of symptoms” starting in late 2017, Nauert said, adding that the symptoms continued through April. The worker was sent to the U.S. for additional testing.

On Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and all five of the U.S. consulates in China held town hall meetings so that diplomats and embassy workers could ask questions or voice concerns. Ambassador Terry Branstad led the session in Beijing.

Despite hundreds of billions of dollars in annual trade between them, China and the U.S. are considered strategic rivals for influence in Asia. Tensions in the relationship frequently flare over accusations of cheating at trade, stealing of secrets, human rights and arms sales to Taiwan, a U.S. partner that China claims as its own territory.

In Cuba, the U.S. reported that some of its personnel and family members experienced a range of ailments, often after hearing an unusual sound. For most, the symptoms occurred around May 2017.

The still-unexplained incidents sparked a rift in U.S.-Cuban relations, while investigators have chased theories including a sonic attack, electromagnetic weapon or a flawed spying device.

Pompeo said Wednesday that he expects the results of an independent investigation into the Cuban incidents by the middle of next week.

Last October, the State Department ordered non-essential embassy personnel and the families of all staff to leave Havana, arguing the U.S. could not protect them from unexplained illnesses that have harmed at least 24 Americans.

Symptoms, sounds and sensations reportedly varied dramatically from person to person. Some have permanent hearing loss or concussions, while others suffered nausea, headaches and ear-ringing. Some are struggling with concentration or common word recall, The Associated Press has reported.

Some felt vibrations or heard loud sounds mysteriously audible in only parts of rooms, and others heard nothing.

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Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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MBANDAKA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Three patients infected with the deadly Ebola virus slipped out of an isolation ward at a hospital in the Congolese city of Mbandaka, an aid group said, as medics raced to stop the disease spreading in the busy river port.

World Health Organization (WHO) workers prepare a centre for vaccination during the launch of a campaign aimed at beating an outbreak of Ebola in the port city of Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe

Two patients left the hospital on Monday, said Henry Gray, head of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) mission in the city, before being located the following day.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in Congo, Yokouide Allarangar, said one was found dead and another was sent back to hospital and died shortly afterwards.

Allarangar, speaking to reporters in the capital Kinshasa, said the two patients had left the hospital with the help of family members before heading to a “place of prayer”.

Health Ministry sources, who asked not to be named, said two police officers had been deployed to help track them down.

Another patient left on Saturday, but was found alive the same day and is under observation, he said.

“This is a hospital. It’s not a prison. We can’t lock everything,” he said.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said health workers had redoubled efforts to trace contacts with the patients. Health workers have drawn up a list of 628 people who have had contact with known cases who will need to be vaccinated.

“It is unfortunate but not unexpected,” he said. “It is normal for people to want the loved ones to be at home during what could be the last moments of life.”

The cases represent a setback to costly efforts to contain the virus, including the use of experimental vaccines, and shows efforts to stem its spread can be hampered by age-old customs or scepticism about the threat it poses.

The report came as another WHO official warned that the fight to stop Democratic Republic of Congo’s ninth confirmed outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever had reached a critical point.

“The next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if we’re going to be able to keep it under control,” WHO’s emergency response chief Peter Salama said at the U.N. body’s annual assembly.

“We’re on the epidemiological knife edge of this response.”

KINSHASA FEARS

Health officials are particularly concerned by the disease’s presence in Mbandaka, a crowded trading hub upstream from Kinshasa, a city of 10 million people. The river runs along the border with the Republic of Congo.

Allarangar said health officials received an alert on Wednesday from Kinshasa’s main hospital about a patient and had dispatched a team to investigate. However, he said this was not yet considered a suspected Ebola case and two or three other such alerts had turned out to be false alarms.

The outbreak, first spotted near the town of Bikoro, about 100 km (60 miles) south of the city, is believed to have killed at least 27 people so far.

The WHO said health workers were following up on three separate transmission chains for cases in Mbandaka’s Wangata neighborhood – one linked to a funeral, one to a church and another to a rural health facility.

“It’s really the detective work of epidemiology that will make or break the response to this outbreak,” Salama said.

The disease was first discovered in Congo in the 1970s. It is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person, who suffers severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.

More than 11,300 people died in an Ebola outbreak in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone between 2013 and 2016.

Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva and Aaron Ross in Dakar; Writing by Joe Bavier and Aaron Ross; Editing by Edward McAllister and Janet Lawrence

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Two years ago John Ramsay called time on his career as a corporate lawyer to work on bringing a Dutch innovation called Tovertafel to the UK. The word means “magic table”, and it’s a variety of games that can help engage people with mid- to late-stage dementia using interactive light animations that are projected onto a table.

We spoke with Ramsay about his own experience of living with a loved one who has dementia, and why he dropped everything to work on Tovertafel.

How did you come to be involved with Tovertafel?

I wanted to do something that gave me more purpose, particularly outside of the courtroom. About two years ago I sat down with a good friend of mine called Dr Hester Le Riche and she told me about this amazing product called the Tovertafel and how it was dedicated to creating moments of happiness in people with dementia. From that moment on I opened up more about my own story. My dad was diagnosed with dementia when I was about 12. He was 52 and a consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’. Growing up as a teenager with your role model gradually becoming someone else, going on this journey where he’s not really able to interact with you, left quite a mark on me.

The Tovertafel is an interactive projector, which projects light animations on to any table. The light animations have been designed to spark the greatest level of interaction in someone with mid- to late-stage dementia. It’s about putting the loved one with dementia in the middle, and working out what is best for them in terms of interaction. When I saw it myself for the first time… you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by it.

What are the best ways to interact with a loved one that has dementia?

It’s important to understand that it’s a journey and you have to prepare yourself. You have to understand where that journey is going to take not just your loved one, but you yourself. It’s important to try to build the environment around their needs, to take external advice and to understand what sort of things will affect a loved one with dementia – short-term memory loss, confusion, a lack of language.

I always try and make the language as positive as possible, because there’s a lot out there that talks about suffering and patience, and negative words like that. It’s obviously clear that that can happen, but people are still living with dementia and they can still be in the present. Once you get dementia that is not the end of everything. Yes, you have a condition, but it’s important to recognise that there is still a life to lead.

Looking back I wish I’d done more of that with my dad. He loved rugby, he loved gardening, he loved doing lots of different things, and we didn’t really build them into his daily routine. We actually thought we were protecting him from it. Therefore he did not feel quite himself and at home and couldn’t focus on things, because it wasn’t necessarily what he enjoyed doing.

The bigger problem with dad was that he was literally working in an NHS hospital on the Friday, and then on the Monday not allowed to drive, let alone work. Can you imagine if I told you tomorrow that your entire routine, your entire daily life, is to be taken away from you? With or without dementia, that’s going to be hard to take, but with dementia as soon as your routine goes it has a really profound effect.

It’s important to give as much love, patience and understanding as possible, but it’s also important to see where the condition and the man lie. I see a pendulum. It might be the condition that’s making dad act in a certain way, but you’ve got to recognise that and not take it out on the man, who’s still there. Sometimes you get frustrated but obviously he’s still your dad, still a man and he’s not doing it intentionally. It means taking a deep breath and treating him as a human, no matter what, and finding the things that are really going to engage him. The onus is on you.

So it’s important to remember that people still enjoy the same things?

Yeah – find a way to bring those into their life. For instance dad loved gardening, but as soon as he was diagnosed he was not allowed to mow the lawn because that could be dangerous. Whereas maybe we could still have been doing gardening in a safe way and he would still have been doing something that he really loved.

How important is a routine?

You’ve got to try to have a routine. You find out what works, and invariably what works one day is likely to work the next day, especially when it gets to the stage when each day is a whole new day. It’s important to find out the things that help spark interaction and create the happy moments. Moving on to Tovertafel, when you hit the mid- to late stage of the journey, it’s designed to spark interaction. It might seem to just be lights on the table, but they’re designed in such a way that it triggers interaction in a very safe environment.

Is the Tovertafel a personalised experience?

Actually we shy away from that – it’s the other way around. What we’re trying to do is be as inclusive as possible. We find general themes like bursting bubbles, sweeping up leaves or catching fish, so you create a social environment. If you weren’t on your journey you might be playing bridge or going down the pub, and it’s replacing that moment.

You don’t want hundreds of games, because it doesn’t work. You want repetitive games. In the really late stages every ten minutes is a new ten minutes, and people don’t necessarily understand that when you’re not confronted with it. So it’s important that if something works, its going to work in ten minutes’ time, or half an hour’s time, and that’s how you gain the structure you need.

Is there something similar you can do with a loved one in the early stages of dementia?

Absolutely, but I think it’s more about traditional activities then. You’re still able to go for walks, go out for dinner and make sure they don’t get isolated. Try to keep them in their world for as long as possible. But at some stage they will become less mobile or talkative and engaged. It’s technically termed passive, but I prefer to say something like withdrawn. And that’s where the Tovertafel is key, because 90% of people with dementia become withdrawn, so what we’re trying to do is stimulate them to be more active.

Some people might reach out and touch the lights, and some people might just watch them, and that’s brilliant, because they weren’t watching things before, so it’s having a profound effect. Or others might start socialising, communicating to people around it, or looking you in the eye when they didn’t before, because the brain is more stimulated.

Where can people find Tovertafel?

We started 18 months ago and we focused on care homes and day care centres. We’re trying to get them installed in the community. They get bought by care homes, libraries, GP practices, surgeries, hospitals, village halls, a church… We’re in 250 to 300 centres in the UK and almost 2,000 across Europe. The goal is to get to ten million people using it every single day.

One of the things we’ve just launched is the Tovertafel buddy scheme, where with each Tovertafel we reach out to a local secondary or primary school and we try to make sure that we can get regular visits from maybe sixth formers on work experience, or primary-school kids to come in and play. The advantage of this is we’ve created an intergenerational activity and young kids have something they can do when they’re spending time with their grandparents.

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An apple a day isn’t the only thing that can keep the doctor away, where in fact, one nutrition-packed egg per day could help us to avoid cardiovascular conditions, according to a new study.

The research, published in the journal Heart has shown that eggs don’t really influence the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), despite what previous studies have shown.

With the average 50g egg containing 186.5mg of cholesterol, or 62 per cent of your daily intake, research has suggested that the yolk makes eggs a harmful food, especially for people already at risk of cardiovascular events.

To examine whether eggs affect an individual’s cardiovascular health, researchers from the School of Public Health at Peking University Health Science Centre in Beijing, China, examined health-related information from 416,213 adult participants from data sourced from the China Kadoorie Biobank, between 2004 and 2008. All individuals were free of cancer, CVD and diabetes.

The participants at the time reported how often they consumed eggs, with 13.1 per cent of them admitting to daily consumption and 9.1 per cent admitting that they only consumed eggs rarely or not at all.

8.9 years later there was a median follow-up of the participants. Over that period of time, 83,977 participants received a CVD diagnosis, and 9,985 people died due to a CVD-related cause.

The results found that the individuals who usually ate about one egg per day had a 26 per cent lower risk of experiencing hemorrhagic stroke, a 28 per cent lower risk of death from this stroke, as well as an 18 per cent lower risk of CVD-related mortality.

“The present study finds that there is an association between moderate level of egg consumption (up to one egg/day) and a lower cardiac event rate,” the study’s authors explained.

Furthermore, the study also found that around 5.32 eggs per week was linked to a 12 per cent lower risk of ischemic heart diseases, compared with people who rarely consumed eggs (approximately 2.03 eggs per week).

CVD is the major cause of death in Australia with 43,963 deaths attributed to CVD in Australia in 2016. It also kills one Australian every 12 minutes, and 22 women die from heart disease every day and kills almost three times as many women as breast cancer.

However, the researchers warn that the study was only observational, and therefore, it would be unwise to conclude that there is a direct link between egg consumption and a lower risk of CVD.

Despite the negative rap around egg yolks, according to Australian Eggs, the yolk contains half of an egg’s protein, majority of the vitamins and minerals, and is one of the few foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D. Furthermore, the yolk provides a dose of lutein, which promotes health eye sight and heart health.

For some egg-cellent recipe ideas, you need to check out these low-carb egg muffins that will make meal-prepping a cinch, and this low-carb Buddha Bowl that takes 10 minutes to whip up.

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The last thing Lizabeth Loud, a month from giving birth, wanted was to be forced into treatment for her heroin and prescription painkiller addiction.

But her mother saw no other choice, and sought a judge’s order to have her committed against her will. Three years later, Loud said her month in state prison, where Massachusetts sent civilly committed women until recent reforms, was the wake-up call she needed.

“I was really miserable when I was there,” the 32-year-old Boston-area resident said. “That was one bottom I wasn’t willing to revisit again.”

An Associated Press check of data in some key states has found that the use of involuntary commitment for drug addiction is rising. And in many places, lawmakers are trying to create or strengthen laws allowing authorities to force people into treatment.

But critics, including many doctors, law enforcement officials and civil rights advocates, caution that success stories like Loud’s are an exception. Research suggests involuntary commitment largely doesn’t work and could raise the danger of overdose for those who relapse after treatment.

And expanding civil commitment laws, critics argue, could also violate due process rights, overwhelm emergency rooms and confine people in prisonlike environments, where treatment sometimes amounts to little more than forced detox without medications to help mitigate withdrawal symptoms.

At least 35 states currently have provisions that allow families or medical professionals to petition a judge, who can then order an individual into treatment if they deem the person a threat to themselves or others. But the laws haven’t always been frequently used.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a law last year allowing police officers to civilly commit a person into treatment for up to three days. In Washington state, legislation that took effect April 1 grants mental health professionals similar short-term emergency powers. In both states, a judge’s order would still be required to extend the treatment.

Related bills have also been proposed this year in states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts, where involuntary commitment has emerged as one of the more controversial parts of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s wide-ranging bill dealing with the opioid crisis.

Massachusetts already allows for judges to order people to undergo up to three months of involuntary treatment, but lawmakers are considering giving some medical professionals emergency authority to commit people for up to three days without a judge’s order.

The proposal is a critical stopgap for weekends and nights, when courts are closed, said Patrick Cronin, a director at the Northeast Addictions Treatment Center in Quincy, who credits his sobriety to his parents’ decision to have him involuntarily committed for heroin use almost 15 years ago.

But giving doctors the ability to hold people in need of treatment against their will, as Massachusetts lawmakers propose, will burden emergency rooms, which already detain people with psychiatric problems until they can be taken to a mental health center, said Dr. Melisa Lai-Becker, president of the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, an advocacy group.

“We’ve got a crowded plane, and you’re asking the pilots to fly for days waiting for an open landing strip while also making sure they’re taking care of the passengers and forcibly restraining the rowdy ones,” Lai-Becker said.

Baker’s administration stressed the proposal wouldn’t take effect until 2020, providing time to work out concerns.

Even without the state legislative efforts, use of involuntary commitment for drug addiction is rising, according to information the AP obtained from states that have historically used it the most.

Florida reported more than 10,000 requests for commitment in both 2016 and 2015, up from more than 4,000 in 2000, according to court records.

Massachusetts reported more than 6,000 forced commitments for drug addiction in both fiscal years 2016 and 2017, up from fewer than 3,000 in fiscal year 2006.

In Kentucky, judges issued more than 200 orders of involuntary commitment for alcohol or drug abuse in the last calendar year, up from just five in 2004, according to court records. The state has so far reported nearly 100 such commitments this year.

But researchers caution there hasn’t been enough study on whether forced treatment is actually working. And many states don’t track whether people are being civilly committed multiple times, let alone whether they get sober for good, the AP found.

In Massachusetts, where fatal overdoses dropped for the first time in seven years in 2017, state public health officials don’t credit increased use of civil commitment, but rather better training for medical professionals, tighter regulations on painkillers, more treatment beds, wider distribution of the overdose reversal drug naloxone, and other initiatives.

A review published in the International Journal of Drug Policy in 2016 found “little evidence” forced treatment was effective in promoting sobriety or reducing criminal recidivism.

Another 2016 study by Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health found the involuntarily committed were more than twice as likely to die of an opioid-related overdose than those who went voluntarily, but those findings shouldn’t be viewed as an indictment of the process, argues Health and Human Services office spokeswoman Elissa Snook.

“Patients who are committed for treatment are among the sickest, most complex and at the greatest risk for an overdose,” she said. “Involuntary commitment is an emergency intervention, to help individuals stay alive until they are capable of entering treatment voluntarily.”

Most states send the civilly committed to treatment facilities run or contracted by public health agencies. The costs generally fall on patients, their families or insurance providers.

Massachusetts stands out because, until recently, it sent those civilly committed for drug addiction to prisons. That decadeslong practice ended for women in 2016, but many men are still sent to the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center, which is housed in a minimum-security prison in Plymouth, near Cape Cod.

Patients wear corrections-issued uniforms and submit to prison regulations like room searches and solitary confinement. They also aren’t given methadone or buprenorphine to help wean off heroin or other opioids, as they might in other treatment centers.

Michelle Wiley, whose 29-year-old son David McKinley killed himself there in September after he asked her to have him civilly committed for the third time, said she isn’t opposed to expanded use of the practice as long as those with addiction aren’t sent to places like Plymouth.

In the days before he hanged himself in his room, Wiley said, her son had complained to her about dirty conditions, poor food and not enough substance abuse counselors while he went through withdrawal.

“You think it’s going to be helpful until you hear what it’s like,” she said. “If I had to do it over, I wouldn’t send him to that place.”

The corrections department has since taken steps to improve conditions, including more frequent patrols by prison guards and extended hours for mental health professionals, department spokesman Jason Dobson said.

As for Loud, the Massachusetts woman civilly committed while pregnant, she said she has found peace.

After briefly relapsing following her son’s birth, she has been sober for about a year and a half. She focuses her energies on raising her son, attending regular support meetings and pursuing a passion sidelined by her addiction: competitive Muay Thai fighting. Her fourth bout is in July.

Loud has also reconciled with her mother. The two now live together, along with her son.

“It took me a long time to understand what she was going through,” Loud said. “She was just trying to save her daughter.”

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Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo. His work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/philip—marcelo



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