Posts Tagged ‘Safety’

Tips for Avoiding Elderly Heat Stroke & Exhaustion

Posted on: July 5th, 2017 by Jamie

I think it’s safe to say that summer has finally arrived here in Vermont and New Hampshire. Hot weather is dangerous, and seniors are particularly prone to its threat. Elderly heat stroke and heat exhaustion are a real problem. Please check on your older family, friends, and neighbors, especially if they do not have access to air conditioning. summer fan

There are several reasons for elderly heat vulnerability. People’s ability to notice changes in their body temperature decreases with age. Many seniors also have underlying health conditions that make them less able to adapt to heat. Furthermore, many medicines that seniors take can contribute to dehydration. Simple precautions are all that’s needed to keep safe. Here are some guidelines for keeping safe in hot weather:

  1. Drink Plenty of Liquids: Dehydration is the root of many heat related health problems. Drink plenty of water or juice, even if you’re not thirsty. But remember to avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, as they can actually contribute to dehydration.
  2. Wear Appropriate Clothes: When it’s hot out, wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes and a wide-brimmed hat.
  3. Stay Indoors During Midday Hours: During periods of extreme heat, the best time to run errands or be outdoors is before 10 am or after 6 pm, when the temperature tends to be cooler.
  4. Take it Easy: Avoid exercise and strenuous activity, particularly outdoors, when it’s very hot out.
  5. Watch the Heat Index: When there’s a lot of moisture in their air (high humidity), the body’s ability to cool itself through sweating is impaired. The heat index factors humidity and temperature to approximate how the how the weather really feels. The current heat index can be found on all popular weather websites, and is also usually announced on local TV and radio weather reports during periods of warm weather.
  6. Seek Air-conditioned Environments: Seniors whose houses aren’t air-conditioned should consider finding an air-conditioned place to spend time during extreme heat. The mall, library or movie theater are all popular options. During heat waves, many cities also set up “cooling centers,” air-conditioned public places, for seniors and other vulnerable populations. Seniors without convenient access to any air-conditioned place might consider a cool bath or shower.
  7. Know the Warning Signs of Heat-related Illness: Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems are all warning signs that help should be sought immediately.
  8. In addition to heat stroke, heat can kill by worsening existing chronic health conditions. For example, for the many Vermonters over the age of 65 who have a chronic condition—such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes—temperatures over 87°F can put them at a higher risk of life-threatening illness. People who feel unwell or faint in hot weather are also vulnerable to serious or deadly falls. People with chronic conditions may not show typical signs of heat illness, but rather worsened symptoms of their condition. If you or someone you know has a potentially dangerous chronic condition and begins to feel sick during a hot day, pay very close attention. If you have concerns about a person’s condition, dial 9-1-1 or get immediate medical attention.

The Boomer’s Roadmap for Aging in Place: How to Prepare Today for your Senior Years

Posted on: February 8th, 2016 by Armistead Admin

from Marie Villeza, Elderimpact

Aging in place is an attractive option for many baby boomers and retirees who value independence and living life on their own terms. This lifestyle choice is a commitment to remaining in the home that you know and love, rather than relocating to a retirement community or assisted living facility.

Establishing an aging in place plan denotes taking responsibility for your quality of life without being a burden on your family or community. Now is the time to start planning for your senior years and making small changes a little bit at a time. Trying to prepare everything at once can be a daunting endeavor, and some changes you may want to make, such as major home renovations, may displace you from your home for days or even weeks. Home repairs and modifications are easier to make before your senior years, and it’s never too early to start planning ahead.

This is a guide for adults who want to live out the rest of their lives with dignity, freedom, and confidence in their own homes during their senior years. It is also a useful resource for baby boomers who are planning for the future and actively trying to make changes to live more comfortably where they are now. Perhaps you have a parent who has limited mobility, but a second parent who is willing and able to take care of the two of them in their own home as they age. Adult children can also benefit by reading this guide to start making plans with their parents and worrying less about manageable, emotionally-charged tasks.

Choosing the Right Home

National and Local Statistics

Your current home may be full of memories, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right home for you as you get older. Now is a good time to consider downsizing to a home that is more suited to your current situation. The large house that you raised your kids in may be too much to handle for just you and your spouse. Large homes require lots of maintenance, cleaning, and upkeep, and all of those tasks become more difficult with age

To determine if your current home can be a lifelong home, start by asking yourself the following AARP HomeFit questions:

  • Is there at least one step-free entrance into your home?
  • Is there a bedroom, full bathroom and kitchen on the main level?
  • Are the interior doorways at least 36 inches wide?
  • Are there secure handrails on both sides of the stairs?
  • Are your hallways, staircases, and walkways well lighted?
  • Do you have a shower/tub with a step-free entry?
  • Is the carpeting in your house and on your stairs secure and in good condition?

If you answered “no” to some of these questions, it’s time to start making changes around the house or looking for a more suitable home that requires less work. For example, a one-level home may be easier to maneuver than a multi-story home with many stairs as you get older. Reasons to relocate include having a walkable neighborhood, lowering household expenses, increased access to convenient facilities, and being close to friends and family.


Home Modifications to Consider

There are many ways that you can modify your existing home or a new home that you move into to make it comfortable and accommodating. According to the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, six out of 10 falls occur in homes with a high prevalence of hazards like loose throw rugs, a lack of tub/shower grab bars, and obstructed pathways. These are some modifications to consider working on now.

Wide Doorways


Wide doorways can accommodate scooters, wheelchairs, and walkers and can be very useful for seniors who use mobility assistance. Doorways should be 36 inches wide and hallways should be 48 inches wide according to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Specially Adapted Housing Minimum Property requirements.

Walk-in Bathtub

Getting in and out of the tub is an issue for many seniors, and a walk-in bathtub can help prevent dangerous slip-and-fall accidents. Consumer Affairs allows you to compare reviews for walk-in bathtubs, which are taller than standard tubs and typically include grab bars, a built-in seat, hand-held shower head, and non-slip floor.

Grab Bars and Handrails

There are many places inside the home where grab bars and handrails can be useful, including the shower, along the staircase, and beside the toilet. Some senior-focused nonprofit agencies, such as CASA, enlist the help of volunteers to install grab bars and hand rails for seniors in the community free of charge.


Ramps make senior homes much safer and more accessible by eliminating stairs that pose hazards. You can install ramps outside at your front and back doors and inside in place of interior stairs. provides a free ramp builder directory by state to connect you with organizations in your area to increase accessibility in your home.

Simple Repairs

It’s easy to procrastinate on simple household repairs that don’t seem all that important. However, household issues tend to worsen over time when ignore. Make a point to start fixing broken steps and cracks in the floors now before the conditions get worse. Not only do these types of repairs prevent falls, but they are also more cost-effective when performed without delay.

Features of a Manageable Home

In addition to home modification projects, there are other helpful features that you can incorporate into your home to make aging in place more manageable.

Clear Out Clutter

It’s a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by your favorite mementos and treasured possessions, but this is also a good time to evaluate your belongings and clear out the clutter. Clutter-free homes are easier to live in and maneuver around. Take a weekend to de-clutter and simplify your life as much as possible by evaluating each room and making piles to sell, donate, and throw away.

Secure Loose Rugs

It’s easy for anyone to trip over loose rugs regardless of age or agility. Rugs add beauty and character to a room, but they can also dangerous and lead to bad falls. Buy rugs with non-slip bottom or secure your rugs to the floor with glue, adhesive, rubber backing, or rug pads.

Use Slip-Resistant Mats

Similarly, pick up slip-resistant mats to place in your bathtub and shower to prevent falls and feel secure when you step in and out. It’s also a good idea to place a non-slip mat by the sink area as well to reduce the risk of slipping.

Invest in Auto Shut-Off

Appliances.  It can be easy to forget to shut off appliances in the home, but this is an issue of both safety and energy efficiency. For peace-of-mind and as a cost-saving strategy, start investing in appliances that have automatic shut-off mechanisms. You can find stoves, toasters, and even curling irons that shut off on their own after time passes without use.

Make Lighting More Accessible

Dimly lit rooms can cause you to trip and fall in your home, especially if you suffer from balance issues or worsening eyesight. Add a few lamps to dim rooms and extra lighting fixtures in hallways where light switches aren’t easily accessible at the doorway.

Use Assistive Technology

The implementation of assistive technology can help seniors stay in their homes longer and enhance the quality of life too. This term refers to products that help people with limited abilities accomplish common tasks and maintain independence. Types of assisted technology products that are useful to seniors include the following:

  • Medical alert system
  • Door and faucet grips
  • Bulb changing kit
  • IPad
  • TV ears
  • Wireless keyboard
  • Stair, bed, and bathtub lifts


Assistance Programs and Resources

After retiring, many adults find themselves on a fixed income, which makes costly home repairs a challenging financial burden. Fortunately, there are some programs available to help give you the financial boost you need to be safe and secure in your own home. For instance, foundations, agencies, and organizations award grants to veterans, people with disabilities, and seniors for home modifications.

Financial Assistance Programs

The nonprofit organization Rebuilding Together hosts National Rebuilding Day in April of each year to provide free home repairs and modifications to low-income homeowners and promote affordable homeownership. This is a nationwide program that completes nearly 10,000 projects per year by enlisting the help of reputable partners including the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the National Association of Homebuilders, and the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Another helpful place to turn to is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Eldercare Locator, which is a nationwide service that connects seniors and caregivers with information on senior services. You can find help in your community or contact the headquarters office to ask about home modification funds available through the Older Americans Act.

You may be able to work with a lender that offers home equity conversion mortgages and reverse mortgages to help you pay for home improvements with your home equity. Contact the National Council on Aging at (571) 527-3900 to learn more about using your home to stay at home and learn about reverse mortgage counseling opportunities.


Here are some additional resources for finding funding in the form of grants for your home modification needs:

Assistive Technology Resources

Whether you want to simply learn about advancements in the field of assistive technology or shop for a specific product, these are some resources to bookmark as you prepare your home for the future.


Making your home safe and accommodating is one of the most important aspects of aging in place; however, there are many other factors to consider before committing to this lifestyle as well. Think about what type of support you will need if you suffer from a chronic condition and if an in-home caregiver or geriatric care manager would be helpful in your situation. You need to understand the risks involved with aging in place, think about a transportation plan, and talk with your family about your wishes and concerns.

To learn more about these issues, Home Mods, a nonprofit funded by the Archstone Foundation, offers a wide range of home modification resources from the housing, disability, aging, and healthcare industries. On the nonprofit’s website, you can access full text documents in the library, browse relevant websites, watch educational videos, and purchase home modification products from reliable companies.

Homeward Bound by Armistead

Posted on: December 4th, 2015 by Armistead Admin

Homeward Bound

Leave the Hospital, Long-term Care or Rehabilitation Facility with Care and Confidence!

Amistead Senior Care is offering a personalized plan of care to bring you home sooner and safely with assistance by certified Aging Life Care Professionals™

Homeward Bound is an individualized plan of care focused on keeping you safe and comfortable in your home, including:

  • Discharge planning – 2-4 hours in the hospital and your home with a Certified Aging Life Care Professional™
  • Home visit, pre-discharge, to make sure everything is ready for you
  • Transportation
  • Prescription pick-up and medication management
  • Meal preparation
  • Clean linens and towels
  • Safety presence with an awake overnight caregiver to provide help with ambulation on your first night home
  • Check-ins by a caregiver, twice a day for 3-5 days post discharge
  • Communication, follow-up, and coordination with your care team

Services can be selected à la carte.

Costs will vary on services selected.  Approximate charges are almost half the cost of a day in the hospital.

Homeward Bound by Armistead

Call today for a FREE Needs Assessment    (802) 489-5682


Senior Strategies: Halloween safety tips for seniors

Posted on: October 26th, 2015 by Armistead Admin

Halloween night can be a scary time for seniors – and not just because of children dressed as vampires, wolf men and wicked witches. Kids accompanied by their parents don’t pose a threat, but constant knocking and large masked visitors can be intimidating regardless of intention.

This is the night when older adults – like all homeowners – speak to more unfamiliar faces over the course of a few hours than at any other time of the year. Anyone opening the front door and handing out treats has a responsibility to keep themselves and their guests safe.

“Each situation requires its own set of precautions be taken,” said Regina Mergel, activities and resident service coordinator at The Wesley Community, a Saratoga Springs nonprofit that provides senior housing and services. “The important thing is to identify concerns and address them so you can relax and enjoy the holiday.

Mergel offers a few tips for making this Halloween a safe one:

Don’t go dark – Leave interior and exterior lights on even if you’re away from home or not handing out treats. While a dark home will dissuade trick-or-treaters from knocking, it also tells vandals your house could be empty. And if you are handing out treats, make sure your exterior is well lit. Troublemakers are less likely to get unruly when they can be seen.

Keep guests outside – Hand out treats on your front porch or steps instead of inviting trick-or-treaters inside. Protecting your domain means drawing a line somewhere, and your front door is a good place to do just that. If someone asks to use the bathroom or phone, your house may not be the best place unless you have multiple adults inside.

Team effort – If you’re worried about handling Halloween alone, ask a younger relative or neighbor to drop by for a few hours. The presence of multiple people will deter would-be tricksters from targeting you or your home.

Remove hazards – Stairs are a good place to display candlelit pumpkins in the days leading up to Halloween, but may not be the best place for anything involving flames when dozens of children with tails and capes are lumbering by. While you’re at it, remove all decorations from footpaths since costumes will leave many children with impaired vision and mobility.

Communicate – Talk to your neighbors about how you can look out for each other on a night with so much foot traffic. Do you want your house watched while you head out on Halloween? Will your neighbor team up and hand out treats together? Discuss concerns in advance and find a formula that works. And don’t hesitate to report suspicious activity – better safe than sorry.

The final and most important rule is to have fun.

“Halloween is no different than any of the celebrations or activities we have here at The Wesley Community,” Mergel said. “Once you’ve addressed concerns, you’ve paved the way for enjoying the smiles, laughs and sense of community that Halloween can offer.

Senior Strategies is a monthly feature in The Saratogian. For more information, call The Wesley Community at 587-3600 or visit

Show Me the Science – How to Wash Your Hands

Posted on: October 12th, 2015 by Armistead Admin

from the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. CDC recommends cleaning hands in a specific way to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. The guidance for effective handwashing and use of hand sanitizer was developed based on data from a number of studies.

Microbes are all tiny living organisms that may or may not cause disease.

Germs, or pathogens, are types of microbes that can cause disease.

 Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. 

Why? Because hands could become recontaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used 1. However, washing with non-potable water when necessary may still improve health 2, 3. The temperature of the water does not appear to affect microbe removal; however, warmer water may cause more skin irritation and is more environmentally costly 4-6.

Turning off the faucet after wetting hands saves water, and there are few data to prove whether significant numbers of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet.

Using soap to wash hands is more effective than using water alone because the surfactants in soap lift soil and microbes from skin, and people tend to scrub hands more thoroughly when using soap, which further removes germs.

To date, studies have shown that there is no added health benefit for consumers (this does not include professionals in the healthcare setting) using soaps containing antibacterial ingredients compared with using plain soap 2, 9, 10. As a result, FDA released a proposed rulein December 2013 to require manufacturers to submit data supporting the efficacy and safety of antibacterial soaps and body washes. View the related press release and consumer updates on antibacterial soap and the common ingredient triclosan . This proposed rule does not affect hand sanitizers, wipes, or antibacterial products used in healthcare settings.


  1. Palit A, Batabyal P, Kanungo S, Sur D. In-house contamination of potable water in urban slum of Kolkata, India: a possible transmission route of diarrhea. Water Sci Technol. 2012;66(2):299-303.
  2. Luby SP, Agboatwalla M, Feikin DR, Painter J, Billhimer W, Altaf A, Hoekstra RM. Effect of handwashing on child health: a randomised controlled trial. 2005;366:225-33.
  3. Luby SP, Halder AK, Huda T, Unicomb L, Johnston RB. The effect of handwashing at recommended times with water alone and with soap on child diarrhea in rural Bangladesh: an observational study. PLoS Med. 2011 Jun;8(6):e1001052.
  4. Carrico AR, Spoden M, Wallston KA, Vandenbergh MP. The environmental cost of misinformation: why the recommendation to use elevated temperatures for handwashing is problematic. Int J Consum Stud. 2013 Jul 1;37(4):433-441.
  5. Laestadius JG, Dimberg L. Hot water for handwashing–where is the proof? J Occup Environ Med. 2005 Apr;47(4):434-5.
  6. Michaels B, Gangar V, Schultz A, Arenas M, Curiale M, Ayers T, Paulson D. Water temperature as a factor in handwashing efficacy. Food Service Technology. 2002;2:139-49.
  7. Burton M, Cobb E, Donachie P, Judah G, Curtis V, Schmidt WP. The effect of handwashing with water or soap on bacterial contamination of hands. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 Jan;8(1):97-104.
  8. Todd ECD, Michaels BS, Holah J, Smith D, Grieg JD, Bartleson CA. Outbreaks where food workers have been implicated in the spread of foodborne disease. Part 10. Alcohol-based antiseptics for hand disinfection and a comparison of their effectiveness with soaps. J Food Prot. 2010 Nov;73(11):2128-40.
  9. Luby SP, Agboatwalla M, Painter J, Altaf A, Billhimer WL, Hoekstra RM. Effect of intensive handwashing promotion on childhood diarrhea in high-risk communities in Pakistan: a randomized controlled trial. 2004 Jun 2;291(21):2547-54.
  10. Larson EL, Lin SX, Gomez-Pichardo C, Della-Latta P. Effect of antibacterial home cleaning and handwashing products on infectious disease symptoms: a randomized, double-blind trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004 Mar 2;140(5):321-9.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. 

Why? Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin.  Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in particularly high concentration under the nails, so the entire hand should be scrubbed 1-5.


  1. Gordin FM, Schultz ME, Huber R, Zubairi S, Stock F, Kariyil J. A cluster of hemodialysis-related bacteremia linked to artificial fingernails.Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2007 Jun;28(6):743-4.
  2. Hoque BA. Handwashing practices and challenges in Bangladesh. Int J Environ Health Res. 2003 Jun;13 Suppl 1:S81-7.
  3. Lin CM, Wu FM, Kim HK, Doyle MP, Michael BS, Williams LK. A comparison of hand washing techniques to remove Escherichia coli and caliciviruses under natural or artificial fingernails. J Food Prot. 2003 Dec;66(12):2296-301.
  4. McGinley KJ, Larson EL, Leyden JJ. Composition and density of microflora in the subungual space of the hand. J Clin Microbiol. 1988 May;26(5): 950–953.
  5. Todd EC, Michaels BS, Smith D, Greig JD, Bartleson CA. Outbreaks where food workers have been implicated in the spread of foodborne disease. Part 9. Washing and drying of hands to reduce microbial contamination. J Food Prot. 2010 Oct;73(10):1937-55.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. collapsed

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. collapsed

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. 

 Why? Determining the optimal length of time for handwashing is difficult because few studies about the health impacts of altering handwashing times have been done. Of those that exist, nearly all have measured reductions in overall numbers of microbes, only a small proportion of which can cause illness, and have not measured impacts on health. Solely reducing numbers of microbes on hands is not necessarily linked to better health 1. The optimal length of time for handwashing is also likely to depend on many factors, including the type and amount of soil on the hands and the setting of the person washing hands.  For example, surgeons are likely to come into contact with disease-causing germs and risk spreading serious infections to vulnerable patients, so they may need to wash hands longer than a woman before she prepares her own lunch at home. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that washing hands for about 15-30 seconds removes more germs from hands than washing for shorter periods 2-4.

Accordingly, many countries and global organizations have adopted recommendations to wash hands for about 20 seconds (some recommend an additional 20-30 seconds for drying):


  1. Luby SP, Agboatwalla M, Billhimer W, Hoekstra RM. Field trial of a low cost method to evaluate hand cleanliness. Trop Med Int Health. 2007 Jun;12(6):765-71
  2. Fuls JL, Rodgers ND, Fischler GE, Howard JM, Patel M, Weidner PL, Duran MH. Alternative hand contamination technique to compare the activities of antimicrobial and nonantimicrobial soaps under different test conditions. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Jun;74(12):3739-44.
  3. Jensen D, Schaffner D, Danyluk M, Harris L. Efficacy of handwashing duration and drying methods. Int Assn Food Prot. 2012 July.
  4. Todd EC, Michaels BS, Smith D, Greig JD, Bartleson CA. Outbreaks where food workers have been implicated in the spread of foodborne disease. Part 9. Washing and drying of hands to reduce microbial contamination. J Food Prot. 2010 Oct;73(10):1937-55.

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

Why? Soap and friction help lift dirt, grease, and microbes—including disease-causing germs—from skin so they can then be rinsed off of hands. Rinsing the soap away also minimizes skin irritation 1. Because hands could become recontaminated if rinsed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used 2,3  While some recommendations include using a paper towel to turn off the faucet after hands have been rinsed, this practice leads to increased use of water and paper towels, and there are no studies to show that it improves health.


  1. Todd EC, Michaels BS, Smith D, Greig JD, Bartleson CA. Outbreaks where food workers have been implicated in the spread of foodborne disease. Part 9. Washing and drying of hands to reduce microbial contamination. J Food Prot. 2010 Oct;73(10):1937-55.
  2. Palit A, Batabyal P, Kanungo S, Sur D. In-house contamination of potable water in urban slum of Kolkata, India: a possible transmission route of diarrhea. Water Sci Technol. 2012; 66(2):299-303.
  3. Hoque BA. Handwashing practices and challenges in Bangladesh. Int J Environ Health Res. 2003 Jun;13 Suppl 1:S81-7.

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Why? Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands; therefore, hands should be dried after washing. 12 However, the best way to dry hands remains unclear because few studies about hand drying exist, and the results of these studies conflict. Additionally, most of these studies compare overall concentrations of microbes, not just disease-causing germs, on hands following different hand-drying methods. It has not been shown that removing microbes from hands is linked to better health 3. Nonetheless, studies suggest that using a clean towel or air drying hands are best 4-6.


  1. Patrick DR, Findon G, Miller TE. Residual moisture determines the level of touch-contact-associated bacterial transfer following hand washing. Epidemiol Infect. 1997 Dec;119(3):319-25.
  2. Todd EC, Michaels BS, Smith D, Greig JD, Bartleson CA. Outbreaks where food workers have been implicated in the spread of foodborne disease. Part 9. Washing and drying of hands to reduce microbial contamination. J Food Prot. 2010 Oct;73(10):1937-55.
  3. Luby SP, Agboatwalla M, Billhimer W, Hoekstra RM. Field trial of a low cost method to evaluate hand cleanliness. Trop Med Int Health. 2007 Jun;12(6):765-71
  4. Gustafson DR, Vetter EA, Larson DR, Ilstrup DM, Maker MD, Thompson RL, Cockerill FR 3rd. Effects of 4 hand-drying methods for removing bacteria from washed hands: a randomized trial. Mayo Clin Proc. 2000 Jul;75(7):705-8.
  5. Huang C, Ma W, Stack S. The hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods: a review of the evidence. Mayo Clin Proc. 2012 Aug;87(8):791-8.
  6. Jensen D, Schaffner D, Danyluk M, Harris L. Efficacy of handwashing duration and drying methods. Int Assn Food Prot Annual Meeting. 2012 July 22-25.
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