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Successful Aging: Finding the right caregiver

Q: My parents are living with significant limitations from severe arthritis, macular degeneration, recent surgeries, plus the beginning of cognitive problems. My brother and I live out of town and have been alternating weekdays and weekends tending to their needs and managing their full-time care providers — some of whom are not great. Despite our well-intentioned advice for them to move, they won’t even consider it. There is an assisted-living facility near where my brother and I live. The stress, wear and tear on us is huge. Add to this the financial drain. We need help. — A.A.

A: You do have a problem, and are not alone. Here are a few facts from the Family Caregiver Alliance:

• 43.5 million adult family caregivers care for someone 50 years old or older.

• The average age of a caregiver is 48 years, with 43 percent living alone.

• 10 million caregivers over 50 who care for their parents lose an estimated $3 billion in lost wages, pensions, retirement funds and benefits.

• Absenteeism caused by caregiving responsibilities cost the U.S. economy an estimated $25.2 billion in lost productivity.

• Eleven to 17 percent of caregivers (depending on what you read) have reported their health has gotten worse as a result of providing care.

Although you and your brother are not full-time on-site caregivers, the long-term physical and emotional stress you may be experiencing are risk factors to your well-being.

Here’s a recommended partial solution: Hire a professional geriatric care manager. This person typically comes from various fields of human services such as social work, psychology, nursing and gerontology. The individual is trained to assess, plan, coordinate, monitor and provide services to older family members and their families.

How do you know if you need a care manager? If you and your brother are overwhelmed, it might be time. Other reasons: A family member has multiple medical and psychological issues and is unable to live safely in the current environment. Add to this list: caregiver burnout, needed resources, inadequate current care and responsible family member(s) living out of town.

Assuming you decide a care manager is needed, the next step is the interview. Here are some questions recommended by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers:

• What services do you provide, or what services does your agency provide?

• If you are with an agency, how many geriatric care managers are in your agency/business?

• We would like an initial consultation, is there a fee and, if so, how much?

• Are you licensed in your profession? If so, describe your professional credentials.

• Are you a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers?

• How long have you been providing care-management services?

• If an emergency occurs, are you available?

• Do you or your company also provide individuals who will come into the home on a regular basis and provide hands-on care?

• In what way(s) do you communicate information with the family, caregivers and the care receiver?

• Is there a live person with whom I can speak? Is he or she available on Sundays and after business hours?

• What are your fees? (This is important before any services are rendered.)

• Can you provide a few references?

Be sure you like the person you are hiring; chemistry is important.

Once you’ve made the decision to hire, request the engagement in writing. The document should include services the care manager will perform and the fees. Know how fees are computed, how travel time and mileage are handled and how services are terminated if needed.

To find a professional certified geriatric care manager, go to www.caremanager.org and enter a zip code. Certification means the geriatric care manager has met certain standards of education, has had supervised experience and adheres to a code of ethics.

For those not yet facing issues of elder care, you might consider slipping this column into a folder for future use, for good reason.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter said it well: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.”

Thank you, A.A., for your important question. My best wishes to you and your brother in finding the best care manager and subsequent care for your parents.

Source:  Press Telegram

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91-Year-Old Breaks 2 Records at Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Harriette Thompson broke the U.S. record for fastest marathon run among people 90 to 94 years old

The 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon saw new records for time and age shattered by one runner.

At 91 years old, Harriette Thompson has become the oldest woman to complete the Southern California race – her 15th time running it. That made her the second oldest marathon runner in U.S. history.

With a time of 7 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds, she also broke the U.S. record for the fastest marathon run in the 90-94 age group.

The previous record was held by a 90-year-old runner in Portland, Oregon, who ran a marathon in 8:53:08, according to U.S.A. Track & Field.

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Cultivate the Healing Power of Gratitude

Gratitude is an immensely powerful force that we can use to expand our happiness, create loving  relationships, and even improve our health.

Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional well being and physical health than those who don’t. In comparison with control groups, those who cultivated a grateful outlook:

  • Felt better about their lives as a whole
  • Experienced greater levels of joy and happiness
  • Felt optimistic about the future
  • Got sick less often
  • Exercised more regularly
  • Had more energy, enthusiasm, determination, and focus
  • Made greater progress toward achieving important personal goals
  • Slept better and awoke feeling refreshed
  • Felt stronger during trying times
  • Enjoyed closer family ties
  • Were more likely to help others and offer emotional support
  • Experienced fewer symptoms of stress

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate. It is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold. The deeper our  appreciation, the more we see with the eyes of the soul and the more our life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe.

Here are a few powerful gratitude practices for you to try:

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

    Since ancient times, philosophers and sages from every spiritual tradition have taught that cultivating gratitude is a key to experiencing deeper levels of happiness, fulfillment, and wellbeing.

    One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practice was Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza. In the seventeenth century, he suggested that each day for a month, we ask ourselves the following three questions:

    1. Who or what inspired me today?
    2. What brought me happiness today?
    3. What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

    This practice, wrote Spinoza, would help us find more meaning and joy in our lives and would lead to profound inner transformation.

    As you write in your journal, challenge yourself by not repeating items from the previous days, for this will make you look more deeply at all the “little” things that enhance your life and give you joy . . . waking in a warm bed; your favorite song; a phone call from a friend; the ability to touch, see, or hear; electricity; the beating of your heart; a hug.

    You can write in your journal just before bed, when you wake up in the morning or just before you meditate. The time of day isn’t important; what is important is that you consistently take a few moments to consciously focus your mind on your blessings. Commit to keeping a journal for a month. What we put our attention on expands in our life. By offering gratitude for all the goodness we experience, we’re inviting the universe to give us more and more of what we want.

  2. Write a Thank You Letter

    Make a list of at least five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person.

    In studies of people who have practiced this form of gratitude, the results have been amazing. Often the recipient of the letter had no idea what an impact he or she had had on another person and were deeply touched by the expression of such authentic gratitude.

    While we may often thank people verbally, the written word can often be even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation.  A letter can also be re-read and treasured, creating joy and love that will continue to ripple out into the universe.

  3. Take a Gratitude Walk

    This is a particularly useful practice when you’re feeling down or filled with stress and worry. Set aside 20 minutes (or longer if you can) and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature.

    As you walk, consider the many things for which you are grateful . . . nurturing relationships, material comforts, the body that allows you to experience the world, the mind that allows you to really understand yourself, and your essential spiritual nature. Breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible.

    Pay attention to your senses – everything you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and maybe even tasting – and see how many things you can find to feel grateful for. This is a powerful way to shift your mood and open to the flow of abundance that always surrounds you.

Source:  http://www.chopra.com/ccl/cultivate-the-healing-power-of-gratitude

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Organic Versus Non-Organic Food List

When it comes to avoiding pesticides and other contaminants in your food, buying organic is often the healthiest option – but it can also be the priciest. Learn which surprising foods are safe to buy non-organic and which are worth the extra cost with this list.

OK to Buy Non-Organic
Asparagus
Sweet Potato
Avocados
Spices
Salmon

Save money and protect yourself from pesticides by learning when to opt for organic foods.

According to the Environmental Working Group’s list of least pesticide-heavy foods, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapples and frozen sweet peas are also good choices if you’re looking for less expensive, non-organic foods.

Worth Buying Organic
Grapes
Potatoes
Spinach
Coffee
Steak
Milk
Eggs
Apples

According to the Environmental Working Group’s list of most pesticide-heavy foods, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, imported nectarines, peaches, strawberries, kale and collard greens, summer squash and sweet bell peppers are worth the extra money to opt for organic.

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/organic-versus-non-organic-food-list

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Alzheimer’s Hits Women Hardest

Women are carrying the bigger burden of Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S., according to a new report — making up not only most of the cases, but paying more of the cost of caring for the growing population of people with the mind-destroying illness.

The new report from the Alzheimer’s Association paints Alzheimer’s as a disease that disproportionately affects women, both as patients and as caregivers. It points out that women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.

“So women are at the epicenter of Alzheimer’s disease today, not only by being most likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but also by being the caregiver most of the time,” said Maria Carrillo, vice president of the advocacy group.

Alzheimer’s affects more than 5 million Americans, a number projected to soar to 13 million over the next 35 years. A study published earlier this year suggested it’s a big killer, taking down more than 500,000 Americans every year.

Courtesy of Angie Carrillo and John Wallace via Alzheimer’s Association

Courtesy of Angie Carrillo and John Wallace via Alzheimer’s Association

Angie Carrillo and John Wallace didn’t expect that he’d develop early onset Alzheimer’s

Three out of five of those living with Alzheimer’s are women, the report finds. “The surprising statistic we pulled out of this report actually is that women over 65 have a one in six chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, in comparison to one out of 11 in men,” Carrillo said. And that compares to a one in eight lifetime risk for developing breast cancer.

“John and I had a whole plan. And all of a sudden, that was not going to happen.”

Even if they escape the disease themselves, women often are burdened in another way, by having to care for afflicted loved ones. There are more than twice as many women as men taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s all day, every day, the report finds.

One of them is Angie Carrillo of San Jose, Calif. Carrillo — no relation to Maria Carrillo — was stunned when her then-61-year-old husband, John Wallace, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008. Things went downhill quickly and Wallace, an accountant, lost his job.

“John and I had a whole plan. And all of a sudden, that was not going to happen,” Carrillo, now 61 herself, told NBC News.

“He had long-term disability, but in order to qualify for that, you had to be disabled for 90 days. So for 90 days, we didn’t have his income, and not that we were living large, but we were spending our paycheck.”

They had to dip into retirement savings.

“It was a scramble to keep my job, go to all of these doctor’s appointments to verify that John indeed was disabled,” Carrillo added.

It’s a pattern the Alzheimer’s Association sees across the country.

The report finds that 20 percent of women cut their working hours from full-time to part-time while caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, while just 3 percent of men did. Federal survey data show that 65 percent of caregivers for patients with dementia are women.

The group analyzed data from federal health surveys, the Census Bureau, National Alliance for Caregiving, AARP and its own poll of 3,000 people to show that 18 percent of women have taken a leave of absence to care for someone with Alzheimer’s, and 11 percent of men have. Eleven percent of women say they have quit their jobs, while 5 percent of men have. Ten percent of women say they’ve lost job benefits because of time taken to care for an Alzheimer’s patient.

“It was a scramble to keep my job.”

And at the same time, they’ve often lost income from a disabled spouse.

“We’re still dipping into our retirement funds,” Carrillo said. “Someone told me, ‘You need to go talk to a good CPA’ and I said, ‘I have a good CPA. Unfortunately, he has dementia’,” Carrillo said.

The disease also hits family life, including grandchildren. “We were the family hub,” Carrillo remembers. “All of the birthdays happened here, all of the holidays … we had six grandchildren sleeping in the den.”

Courtesy of Angie Carrillo and John Wallace via Alzheimer’s Association

Courtesy of Angie Carrillo and John Wallace via Alzheimer’s Association

Like millions of U.S. women, Angie Carrillo struggles to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease: her husband, John Wallace.

Dementia changed that. “It went from a really happy place to a place that’s not so happy. Papa all of a sudden wasn’t able to drive a car and take them to the skate park … or to go play miniature golf with them … so our life became smaller and smaller,” she said.

This can leave women feeling alone, the report finds. “The higher care giving burden placed on women has many consequences, including higher emotional and physical stress, strained family relationships and lost employment opportunities,” it concludes.

Carrillo eventually had to put Wallace into a full-time care facility. He would wander and get lost and couldn’t be left alone for a moment.

“The memory care facility he’s in now is $5,000 a month,” Carrillo said Carrillo, who blogs about her situation.

“I don’t quite know where I’m going to get that money,” she added. “So I’m in the process right now of creating a rental space in my home.”

Medicaid will help, but only once Carrillo is broke. And that often happens, the report finds.

“Given the high average costs of these services (adult day services, $72 per day; assisted living, $43,756 per year; and nursing home care, $83,230 to $92,977 per year), individuals often deplete their income and assets and eventually qualify for Medicaid,” the report reads. “Medicaid is the only public program that covers the long nursing home stays that most people with dementia require in the late stages of their illnesses.”

The Alzheimer’s Association says the total national cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to reach $214 billion this year. The report calculates that unpaid caregiving by family and friends would add up to another $220 billion.

“In 2014, the cost to Medicare and Medicaid of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will reach a combined $150 billion with Medicare spending nearly $1 in every $5 on people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia,” the association says.

Right now, there are no good treatments for Alzheimer’s and certainly nothing even close to a cure. The biggest advance lately is a blood test that appears to show who’s likely to develop symptoms — but researchers say all that really does is provide a way for people to prepare for the inevitable, and perhaps for their doctors to try treating them earlier to see if current less-than-useful medications might do better in someone who hasn’t begun to show memory loss yet.

“Despite being the nation’s biggest health threat, Alzheimer’s disease is still largely misunderstood. Everyone with a brain — male or female, family history or not — is at risk for Alzheimer’s,” said Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Although millions of Americans are in the same situation as Carrillo, “It’s a lonely journey,” she said.

Source:  NBC News First published March 18th 2014, 9:01 pm

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‘a lifetime of happiness is awaiting you…’

I’m going to be honest. There was a time in my life where I wasn’t so happy. I was satisfied, because I really did have everything I needed, but I wasn’t happy. And I’m not sure if there was even a life-shattering event that took place which made me become a truly happy person. But I do know this — I am the happiest now I have ever been.

For the past five years, I have seemed to build an empire of happiness around me. I have surrounded myself with happy people, which means selectively choosing my friends and acquaintances. I don’t allow negativity into my space — whether that is my mental space, my physical space or my emotional space. I have learned how to be so in tune with myself that when something is making me unhappy, I take time to reflect on it, meditate and explore the circumstances surrounding the emotion, instead of pushing it aside and burying it. And above all, I have learned to be present and find joy in the smallest aspects of life, from a cicada that made a racket outside my window this week to the elderly man I say hello to while walking past his Brooklyn stoop each morning. (He doesn’t ever respond, but I know he hears me, as he gives me the slightest head nod.)

When I sat down to write this article though, I became stuck in the writing journey because I had never thought about how I had built this empire of happiness. So, I laced up my running shoes and went for a run, because running is what gets me unstuck when I have a writing project that just doesn’t seem to be flowing.

I took off around the block and headed toward my neighborhood park. I decided in mid-stride that I would take some time to reflect on this topic underneath my favorite tree in Brooklyn. It is an oak tree which is about 80 years old, with a thick curved branch perfect for sitting on or hanging from. And when I arrived at the tree for my mid-run stretch, I said aloud, “How do you build an empire of happiness?”

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Women ANCHORING Women

International Women’s Day, which has existed for more than 100 years, was the product of an era marked by rapid change and upheaval in the industrialized world. As the planet’s population grew and the demand for labor increased, and as new ideologies took shape, women were thrust into a brave new world and confronted with a host of challenges.

The first day dedicated to women was established in 1911, and it was observed for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19, when more than 1 million people attended rallies around the world to assert women’s right to work, vote, be trained and hold public office. Two years later, the day was officially changed to March 8, the date on which it’s been celebrated globally ever since as International Women’s Day.

Today, International Women’s Day is recognized by the UN and is an official holiday in 27 countries. On this day each year, men are asked to honor their mothers, wives, girlfriends and colleagues — similar to Mother’s Day, when boys and men celebrate and give gifts to their mothers and grandmothers.

While women have made great strides, a gender equality gap still exists. In 2014, International Women’s Day will focus on the role men play in standing up for women’s rights. According to a World Health Organization report, men can play a critical part in reducing domestic violence and increasing communication about contraception, children’s health and social support for wives and partners.

“It’s an objective fact, that if you want to solve some of these huge, kind of bigger problems of extreme poverty, you have to include the women,” actor Matt Damon, founder of Water.org, a nonprofit group that provides access to safe water and sanitation in Africa, South Asia and Central America, said about the UN’s “He For She” campaign, which was unveiled on Friday. “They’re the ones who will get it done.”

“This is a moment when we review past achievements and look ahead to the challenges that remain, as well as to untapped potential and opportunities,” she said. “In moving forward, we must ensure that women’s empowerment and gender equality stand at the heart of all of our work to craft a better future.”

International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8, 2014, with an event held on March 7 at the UN headquarters in New York at noon. A live stream of the event can be viewed here.

For those celebrating International Women’s Day 2014, below are 25 empowering quotes to share:

Empowerment Quotes

“Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity.” — Ghandi

“Women are leaders everywhere you look — from the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Our country was built by strong women, and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes.” — Nancy Pelosi

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of a man at twice its natural size.” — Virginia Woolf

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” — Roseanne Barr

“I believe that it is as much a right and duty for women to do something with their lives as for men and we are not going to be satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us.” — Louisa May Alcott

“The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.” — Charles Malik

Inspirational

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” — Oprah Winfrey

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” — Margaret Thatcher

“In too many instances, the march to globalization has also meant the marginalization of women and girls. And that must change.” — Hillary Clinton

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” – Marilyn Monroe

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” — Maya Angelou, African American Poet

“Modern invention has banished the spinning wheel, and the same law of progress makes the woman of today a different woman from her grandmother.” — Susan B. Anthony, Women’s Activist

“Men and boys, we show our manhood through the way we treat our women. Our wives, our sisters, our mothers.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“One is not born a woman, one becomes one.” — Simone de Beauvoir

“Women are the real architects of society.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe

“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” — Melinda Gates

“A charming woman doesn’t follow the crowd. She is herself.” — Loretta Young

Funny

“I’m supposed to have a Ph.D. on the subject of women. But the truth is I’ve flunked more often than not. I’m very fond of women; I admire them. But, like all men, I don’t understand them.” — Frank Sinatra

“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.” — Joseph Conrad

“The reason women don’t play football is because 11 of them would never wear the same outfit in public.” — Phyllis Diller

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” — Coco Chanel

“Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of happy, fat women.” — Nicole Hollander

“God gave women intuition and femininity. Used properly, the combination easily jumbles the brain of any man I’ve ever met.” — Farrah Fawcett

“By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacation-less class.” — Anne Morrow Lindberg

Source:  IBT Times

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The Powerful Benefits of Family Support

“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”-George Santayana, philosopher, poet, novelist

An Inspiring New Beginning

A couple of months ago, Little Lotus and I moved to live near members of our family. Upon moving closer to my aunt, uncle, and a bunch of cousins, I immediately began to understand the support system I’d been missing. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be surrounded by family who see my potential, encourage me to take time for myself, and who I trust to take excellent care of my daughter. The support of my family inspires me to do my best, and I’m excited that my daughter will reap the benefits of family support as she grows.

The Benefits of Family Support

The well known African proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child,” resonates with so many people for good reason. The support of a loving family and community is essential, and it offers several vital benefits like:

  • Enhanced self-esteem and identity.
  • Members see the importance of their role in the group or the bigger picture.
  • Shared legacy and culture.
  • A sense of belonging, acceptance, and connectedness.
  • Shared caretaking responsibilities of children and elders.
  • Greater financial security through shared resources.

Remembering Where I Come From

In the short time I’ve lived near my family, I’ve been reminded of the strong line of people I come from and recognized my place in a long line of feisty, capable, big-hearted women. I’ve had a blast getting together with my cousins and their children (my little cousins) for play dates and parties, and I’ve loved being able to have a moment to myself knowing that my daughter is in good hands. I have always strived, but now I feel even more supported to spread my wings.

“Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.”-Susan Lieberman, author New Traditions

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Positive Thinking Can Help You Feel Better Longer

There is power in positive thinking.

Have you noticed that some older adults continue to feel good and stay active well into their senior years, while others appear to age rapidly and experience increased health problems? Positive thinking may play a significant role.

Research published in Psychology and Aging, a journal from the American Psychological Association (APA), shows that while genetics and overall physical health play a part in how people age, positive thinking can also play an important role.

According to an APA news release, researchers found a link between positive emotions and the onset of frailty in 1,558 initially non-frail older Mexican Americans living in five southwestern states. This was the first study to examine frailty and the protective role of positive thinking in the largest minority population in the United States.

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“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” Mark Twain

Laughter can be a powerful anti-aging weapon. And the most wonderful thing about it, is that it it’s free and available to everyone.

There is nothing in life that can keep you young at heart like a good laugh. Whether laughing over a shared memory with a close friend, watching a movie, reading a book, or forcing a laugh to ward off a bad mood, a good laugh can boost your attitude and leave you in a happier state of mind.

Laughter promotes relaxation, it relievers stress and releases tension from the neck and shoulders, and it promotes the release of endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones.

“You don’t stop laughing because you’re old. You grow old because you stop laughing”

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