The Heat is On: Heat Vulnerability in Older Adults

heat vulnerability in older adults

Heat Vulnerability in Older Adults

Have you considered the issue of heat vulnerability in older adults? As the summer months approach, it’s crucial to understand how heat can have harmful effects on people over 65. In this article, we talk about some of the reasons why seniors are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses and offer practical advice for staying safe during hot weather.

Why Heat Affects Seniors More

There are multiple reasons why those over 65 are more affected by heat than younger individuals.  Some of these reasons include:

Decreased Ability to Regulate Body Temperature

As we age, our bodies become less efficient at regulating temperature. The sweat glands, which help cool the body, become less active, and the ability to sense temperature changes diminishes. This can make it harder for seniors to notice when they are becoming overheated. Additionally, the body’s circulation system can become less responsive, further complicating the body’s natural cooling processes.

Chronic Health Conditions

Many older adults have chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or respiratory issues, which can be exacerbated by high temperatures. These conditions can also impair the body’s ability to respond to heat. For example, heart disease can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, making it harder to disperse heat throughout the body. Similarly, respiratory issues can impede breathing and reduce oxygen flow, both of which are critical for maintaining an optimal body temperature.

Medications

Certain medications commonly prescribed to seniors, such as diuretics, beta-blockers, and antihistamines, can interfere with the body’s ability to stay hydrated and regulate temperature. Diuretics, for instance, increase urine output, which can lead to dehydration. Beta-blockers can reduce blood flow to the skin, impairing heat dissipation, while antihistamines can inhibit sweating, making it harder to cool down.

Recognizing Heat-Related Illnesses

As temperatures rise, it’s crucial for seniors and their families to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Recognizing the early warning signs and knowing how to respond can prevent complications and ensure that seniors stay safe and healthy during the hot summer months. Let’s take a look at the most common heat-related illnesses that affect seniors, their symptoms, and what steps to take if they occur.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a condition that arises after prolonged exposure to high temperatures, especially when accompanied by dehydration. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, muscle cramps, and cold, clammy skin. If not addressed promptly, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, a more severe and potentially life-threatening condition.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a medical emergency characterized by a body temperature above 103°F (39.4°C). Symptoms include confusion, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, nausea, dizziness, and possibly unconsciousness. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention, as it can cause lasting damage to the brain and other vital organs if not treated promptly. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to heat stroke due to their diminished ability to regulate body temperature and potential presence of chronic health conditions.

Tips for Staying Safe in the Heat

When temperatures soar, it’s essential for seniors to take extra precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses. Simple lifestyle adjustments and proactive measures can make a significant difference in maintaining health and comfort during hot weather and provide protection from heat vulnerability in older adults . Check out these practical tips for staying safe. By following these guidelines, seniors and their families can ensure a safer and more enjoyable summer season.

Stay Hydrated

One of the most important steps in preventing heat-related illnesses is staying hydrated. Seniors should aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if they do not feel thirsty. It’s advisable to avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol, as these can contribute to dehydration. Carrying a water bottle and setting reminders to drink water can be helpful strategies for maintaining hydration.

Keep Cool

During the hottest parts of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., it’s best to stay indoors. If air conditioning is available, use it to maintain a cool indoor environment. If air conditioning is not available, consider visiting air-conditioned public places like shopping malls, libraries, or community centers. Using fans can also help circulate air and provide a cooling effect.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Clothing choices can significantly impact body temperature. Lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing helps keep the body cool by allowing air circulation and reflecting sunlight. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can also provide protection against the sun’s rays and reduce the risk of sunburn, which can further exacerbate heat-related issues.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is crucial for staying safe during hot weather. Check the weather forecast and schedule outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Inform family members or friends of your plans, especially if you’ll be spending time outside, so they can check on you if necessary. Additionally, ensure that you have access to plenty of water and shade if you must be outdoors.

How Family Members Can Help

Family members play an important role in safeguarding seniors during hot weather. Heat vulnerability in older adults can be life threatening. Understanding how to assist effectively can make a substantial difference in ensuring the well-being of seniors during the hottest months of the year.

Check In Regularly

Family members play an essential role in ensuring the safety of older adults during heat waves. Regularly check in on older relatives, either in person or via phone, to ensure they are staying cool and hydrated. Be alert for any signs of heat-related illnesses and be prepared to take action if necessary.

Educate and Communicate

Education and clear communication are key to preventing heat-related illnesses. Make sure your loved ones understand the risks associated with high temperatures and the importance of taking preventative measures. Discuss the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke so they can recognize these conditions early and seek help if needed.

Assist with Arrangements

Helping older family members make necessary arrangements can significantly enhance their safety during hot weather. This can include arranging for air conditioning repairs, providing transportation to cool places, or delivering water and other essentials. Ensuring that their living environment is cool and comfortable can prevent heat-related illnesses.

Ensuring a Safe Summer for Seniors: Key Takeaways

Understanding heat vulnerability in older adults and why heat affects people over 65 more than others is the first step to protecting their health and safety. By recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses and taking preventative measures, seniors and their families can enjoy a safe and comfortable summer. Stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed.

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The Trust Factor: Demystifying Fiduciary Duties

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What Does Fiduciary Mean?

Contrary to popular belief, the term “fiduciary” does not mean financial dealings.  It is derived from the Latin word “fiducia,” meaning trust or confidence. In a legal context, a fiduciary is an individual or entity entrusted to manage assets, interests, or rights on behalf of another party. This relationship is founded on trust and requires the fiduciary to act in the best interest of the beneficiary. The duty is both legal and ethical, emphasizing the highest standard of care.

Examples of Fiduciary Roles

Fiduciary roles are prevalent in various fields. Here are some common examples:

Financial Advisors

Financial advisors manage their clients’ investments and financial plans. They must prioritize their clients’ financial well-being over personal gains, ensuring sound advice and prudent management of assets.

Trustees

A trustee is responsible for managing assets held in a trust for beneficiaries. This role involves overseeing the trust’s operations, making investment decisions, and distributing assets according to the trust’s terms.

Executors

An executor administers a deceased person’s estate. Their duties include paying off debts, distributing assets to heirs, and ensuring the estate’s smooth settlement as per the will’s instructions or state laws.

Corporate Directors

Corporate directors are fiduciaries to the company’s shareholders. They must make decisions that benefit the company and its stakeholders, maintaining transparency and avoiding conflicts of interest.

Attorneys

Attorneys owe a fiduciary duty to their clients, requiring them to act with loyalty, confidentiality, and competence. They must prioritize their clients’ legal interests and provide informed and unbiased advice.

Legal Obligations of a Fiduciary

Fiduciaries have specific legal obligations that define their duties and responsibilities. These include:

  • Duty of Care: The duty of care mandates that fiduciaries act with the same level of care and diligence that a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances. This involves being well-informed and making decisions based on thorough research and consideration.
  • Duty of Loyalty: The duty of loyalty requires fiduciaries to prioritize the beneficiary’s interests above their own. They must avoid conflicts of interest and refrain from profiting at the beneficiary’s expense. Any potential conflict must be disclosed and addressed appropriately.
  • Duty of Good Faith: Fiduciaries must act in good faith, meaning they should be honest and sincere in their actions and decisions. This includes providing accurate information and not misleading the beneficiary in any way.
  • Duty of Confidentiality: Fiduciaries must keep the beneficiary’s information confidential, only disclosing it when necessary and with proper authorization. This is crucial in maintaining trust and protecting the beneficiary’s privacy.
  • Duty to Account: Fiduciaries must keep accurate records of their actions and decisions and provide accounting to the beneficiaries. This ensures transparency and allows beneficiaries to monitor the fiduciary’s performance and compliance with their duties.

Consequences of Breaching Fiduciary Duty

Breaching fiduciary duty can result in severe legal and financial consequences. Beneficiaries can take legal action against a fiduciary who fails to fulfill their obligations.

Common remedies include:

  • Monetary Damages: The court may order the fiduciary to compensate the beneficiary for any financial losses incurred due to the breach.
  • Removal from Position: A fiduciary who breaches their duty can be removed from their position and replaced by someone more trustworthy and competent.
  • Restitution: The fiduciary may be required to return any profits or benefits gained from the breach to the beneficiary.

Importance of Fiduciary Duty

Fiduciary duty is fundamental in maintaining trust and integrity in various relationships, especially where significant power or responsibility is involved. It ensures that those entrusted with managing others’ interests do so with the utmost care, loyalty, and transparency.

Final Thoughts

Understanding what it means to have a fiduciary duty is crucial for anyone in a position of trust and responsibility. Whether you’re a financial advisor, trustee, executor, corporate director, or attorney, adhering to the legal and ethical standards of fiduciary duty is essential. By doing so, you not only uphold the trust placed in you but also contribute to a fairer and more just society.

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Guardians of Finance: The Crucial Role of Enduring Power of Attorney

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Understanding the Role of an Enduring Power of Attorney

In today’s world, the utilization of an enduring power of attorney (POA) is becoming increasingly important. As our population ages and the incidence of conditions like dementia rises, more individuals and their families are grappling with the need for a trusted person to manage financial and legal affairs. But many people don’t understand the true cost of this role in terms of time commitment or that there are legal obligations tied to their actions. In this article, we look deeper at the role of an enduring POA, highlighting its fiduciary nature, legal obligations, and the critical need for vigilance against financial abuse.

What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?

An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that grants a designated individual (the attorney) the authority to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of the person who appointed them (the donor or grantor). What makes an enduring POA distinct is that it remains in effect even if the grantor becomes mentally incapacitated. This is crucial for ensuring that there is someone to manage the grantor’s affairs when they are no longer able to do so themselves. Safeguards, such as issues that trigger it, can be included when the document is created.

The Fiduciary Role of a POA

The person appointed as an enduring POA takes on a fiduciary role, meaning they are legally and ethically obligated to act in the best interests of the grantor. This duty encompasses managing bank accounts, investments, property, and paying bills. The attorney must avoid conflicts of interest, always acting with honesty, integrity, and in good faith.

Given the significant responsibility and trust placed on the attorney, choosing the right person for this role is paramount. It should be someone who is not only trustworthy and reliable but also understands how the grantor would make decisions, and is  capable of handling complex financial and legal matters.

Legal Obligations of an Enduring POA

The legal obligations of an enduring POA are extensive and vary by jurisdiction. Generally, the attorney must:

  • Act in the Principal’s Best Interest: The attorney must prioritize the grantor’s needs and interests above their own.
  • Keep Accurate Records: Detailed records of all transactions and decisions made on behalf of the grantor must be maintained.
  • Avoid Conflicts of Interest: The attorney should not use their position to gain personal benefits.
  • Maintain Confidentiality: The attorney must keep the grantor’s financial and personal information confidential.

Failure to adhere to these obligations can result in legal consequences, including removal from the position and potential civil or criminal liability.

The Time Commitment of an Enduring POA

Acting as an enduring POA is not just about making decisions; it often requires a significant time commitment. The attorney may need to manage day-to-day financial transactions, oversee investments, handle real estate matters, and ensure all bills are paid on time. This can be particularly time-consuming if the grantor’s financial affairs are complex or if the attorney lives at a distance. Additionally, it is essential to communicate with health care providers, health authorities, and, if the grantor is in a care facility, facility staff. Regularly visiting the grantor to assess their needs and making necessary arrangements for their care can also add to the workload. Therefore, it’s crucial for the appointed attorney to be prepared for these demands and to have the capacity to manage them effectively.

The Rising Concern of Financial Abuse

One of the significant concerns surrounding enduring POAs is the potential for financial abuse. This abuse can take various forms, including misappropriation of funds, unauthorized transactions, or coercion to alter financial arrangements. Sadly, those with cognitive impairments, such as dementia, are particularly vulnerable. Statistics show a troubling rise in financial abuse cases involving POAs. According to recent studies, a substantial number of elder abuse cases involve a POA, and this form of abuse is often underreported. It’s estimated that the number of POAs triggered daily due to dementia is significant, highlighting the urgent need for safeguards and vigilant oversight.

Preventing Financial Abuse

Preventing financial abuse involves several proactive steps:

  • Choose Wisely: Select a POA who is not only trustworthy but also understands their fiduciary responsibilities.
  • Regular Monitoring: Regularly review the financial transactions and decisions made by the POA.
  • Legal Safeguards: Include provisions in the POA document that require periodic accounting and/or third-party oversight.
  • Education and Awareness: Educate the principal and their family about the risks of financial abuse and the signs to watch for.

There is no question that an enduring power of attorney is a vital tool for managing financial and legal affairs, especially as cognitive impairments like dementia become more prevalent. However, the role comes with significant fiduciary responsibilities and legal obligations. By understanding these responsibilities and taking steps to prevent financial abuse, individuals can ensure that their interests are protected even when they are no longer able to manage their own affairs.

As you prepare for the future, consider who you trust to manage your financial and legal matters. Choose someone who will act in your best interests and take proactive steps to safeguard against potential abuse. With the right planning and oversight, an enduring power of attorney can provide peace of mind and security for you and your loved ones.

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Small Spaces, Big Impact: Tiny Home Villages Tackling the Housing Crisis

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Tiny Home Villages and The Housing Crisis

The housing crisis is an ongoing issue that affects a diverse range of individuals and families, including seniors, students, the working poor, and the homeless. The affordability of traditional housing solutions often fall short in addressing the needs of these people. However, an innovative approach is gaining traction: tiny home villages. These compact, efficient living spaces offer a promising solution to the housing crisis, providing affordable and sustainable housing options.

What Are Tiny Home Villages?

Tiny home villages are communities of small, standalone houses, typically ranging from 100 to 400 square feet. These homes are designed to maximize efficiency and minimize costs, making them an ideal solution for those who struggle to afford traditional housing. Beyond affordability, tiny home villages foster a sense of community, which is essential for the well-being of their residents.

Addressing the Needs of Diverse Populations

Tiny homes and tiny home villages have the potential to provide housing solutions for a number of individuals and cohorts, such as;

Seniors: As people live longer, the demand for affordable senior housing has skyrocketed. Tiny home villages offer a viable option for seniors who wish to downsize, maintain independence, and live in a supportive community. They also offer an alternative to seniors housing facilities which, despite best intentions, limit the freedoms and remove the ability of the residents to have agency over many of their decisions.

Students: With rising tuition fees and living costs, students often find themselves in precarious housing situations. Tiny home villages could provide a cost-effective alternative, allowing students to focus on their studies without the burden of high rent.

The Working Poor: Many working individuals and families cannot afford the steep costs of traditional housing and are forced to make choices between housing, food, and other living expenses, causing significant stress. Tiny home villages offer an affordable solution, enabling them to live in decent housing without sacrificing a significant portion of their income.

The Homeless: Tiny home villages provide immediate and dignified housing for the homeless, offering stability and a sense of belonging, which are crucial for transitioning out of homelessness.

Successful Tiny Home Village Projects

Kelowna, BC: Tiny Town for the Homeless

In Kelowna, British Columbia, a pioneering project known as “Tiny Town” has been developed to address homelessness. This initiative, led by local non-profit organizations, consists of several tiny homes equipped with basic amenities. The project aims to provide not just shelter but a pathway to stability and self-sufficiency. Residents receive support services, including counseling, job training, and health care, helping them reintegrate into society.

Calgary, AB: Veterans Village in Radisson Heights

In Calgary, Alberta, the Veterans Village in Radisson Heights is a testament to the effectiveness of tiny home villages in addressing specific community needs. This project, spearheaded by the Homes for Heroes Foundation, provides housing for homeless veterans. Each tiny home is equipped with modern conveniences and is part of a larger community that includes shared spaces and support services. This village not only offers a safe place for veterans to live but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and mutual support.

Homes for Heroes has also developed tiny home villages in Edmonton, Alberta and Kingston, Ontario, each providing housing and support for 20 homeless veterans.

The Benefits of Tiny Home Villages

Affordability: Tiny homes cost significantly less to build and maintain than traditional homes, making them an attractive option for low-income individuals and families.

Sustainability: These homes are designed to be energy-efficient, often incorporating green technologies such as solar panels and rainwater collection systems. This reduces the environmental footprint and lowers utility costs for residents.

Community Building: Tiny home villages foster a sense of community and belonging, which is particularly beneficial for vulnerable populations. Shared spaces and communal activities encourage social interaction and mutual support.

Scalability: Tiny home villages can be scaled up or down to meet the needs of different communities. This flexibility makes them a versatile solution for various housing crises.

Challenges and Considerations

While tiny home villages offer numerous benefits, there are challenges to consider. Zoning laws and building codes can pose significant hurdles, requiring advocacy and policy changes to accommodate these innovative housing solutions. Additionally, funding and land acquisition are critical factors that need to be addressed to ensure the success and sustainability of tiny home villages.

Tiny home villages represent a significant step forward in addressing the housing crisis for seniors, students, the working poor, and the homeless. Projects like Tiny Town in Kelowna and the Veterans Village in Calgary demonstrate the potential of these communities to provide affordable, sustainable, and supportive housing solutions. As more cities and communities explore this innovative approach, tiny home villages could play a pivotal role, not only in creating a more equitable and resilient housing landscape, but also addressing many societal issues by removing the stress of having safe, affordable housing for vulnerable individuals in our communities.

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Walking Well: Steps to a Healthier, Pain-Free Life

walking well

The Importance of Proper Walking Mechanics

Walking is a fundamental human activity, yet many of us may be doing it wrong without even realizing it. Improper walking techniques can lead to various health issues, including knee, hip, and back pain, as well as shortened hip flexors. Simply by walking correctly, we can alleviate existing pain and prevent future discomfort. Let’s take a look at the importance of using our bones and joints properly, maintaining good posture, and adopting healthy walking habits.

Understanding the Basics of Walking

Walking is a complex motion that involves coordination between bones, joints, and muscles. When we walk, our body engages in a series of intricate movements that distribute weight and provide balance. Proper walking mechanics ensure that these movements are efficient and do not place undue stress on any part of the body.

Common Walking Mistakes

Many people unknowingly make mistakes while walking that can lead to pain and discomfort. Common errors include:

  • Overstriding: Taking steps that are too long can cause excessive impact on the joints, particularly the knees and hips.
  • Heel Striking: Landing heavily on the heel can lead to joint strain and decreased shock absorption.
  • Slouching: Poor posture, such as hunching the shoulders or leaning forward, can disrupt the natural alignment of the spine and lead to back pain.
  • Flat-Footed Walking: As we age, we tend to walk more flat-footed, which can cause additional stress on the knees and hips. This gait pattern can lead to a lack of proper shock absorption and increased joint pain.

Proper Use of Bones and Joints

Engaging the Right Muscles

Using the correct muscles while walking is crucial for maintaining joint health. Focus on engaging the glutes and core muscles to support your lower back and pelvis. This can help distribute the load evenly across the body and reduce strain on the joints.

Joint Alignment and Movement

Ensure that your joints are moving in their natural alignment. Your knees should track over your feet, and your hips should remain level. Avoid twisting or rotating your hips excessively, as this can lead to hip and lower back issues.

The Role of Posture in Walking

Maintaining a Neutral Spine

A neutral spine is the foundation of good posture. Stand tall with your head held high, shoulders relaxed, and your spine in a natural S-curve. This alignment helps distribute weight evenly and reduces the risk of back pain.

The Head and Neck

Keep your head up and gaze forward. Avoid looking down at your feet, as this can cause your neck to strain and your shoulders to round forward. Imagine a string pulling the top of your head towards the sky to maintain an upright position.

 Steps to Improve Your Walking Technique

 Step 1: Assess Your Current Walking Habits

Take note of your current walking habits. Pay attention to your stride length, foot placement, and posture. Identifying areas that need improvement is the first step towards walking correctly.

 Step 2: Practice Proper Foot Placement

Aim to land your feet softly with each step. Instead of heel striking, try to place your foot down midfoot and roll through to the toes. This can help reduce the impact on your joints and improve shock absorption.

Step 3: Shorten Your Stride

Shortening your stride can help reduce the load on your knees and hips. Take smaller, quicker steps to maintain a more controlled and balanced gait.

Step 4: Strengthen Core and Glute Muscles

Incorporate exercises that strengthen your core and glute muscles into your routine. Stronger muscles provide better support for your joints and help maintain proper alignment while walking.

Benefits of Walking Correctly

Reduced Pain and Discomfort

Walking correctly can alleviate existing pain and prevent future discomfort. Proper mechanics and posture reduce strain on the joints and muscles, leading to less pain in the knees, hips, and back.

Improved Mobility and Flexibility

By using the right muscles and maintaining joint alignment, you can improve your overall mobility and flexibility. This can make daily activities easier and enhance your quality of life.

Prevention of Injuries

Correct walking techniques can help prevent injuries related to poor mechanics and posture. By reducing the risk of joint strain and muscle imbalances, you can stay active and healthy for longer.

Walking is an everyday activity we often take for granted, but doing it incorrectly can lead to significant health issues. By focusing on proper walking mechanics, posture, and muscle engagement, we can alleviate pain, improve mobility, and prevent injuries. Start by assessing your current habits, practicing proper foot placement, and strengthening your core and glute muscles. With these steps, you can walk your way to a healthier, pain-free life.  And be sure to check out our Shop to help you age well.

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Reimagining Senior Living: Housing Options Beyond Facilities

cohousing

Exploring Alternative Housing Options for Seniors

As our population ages, the demand for diverse and innovative senior housing solutions is growing. Traditional facility-based living arrangements, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, have long been the go-to options for seniors. However, many older adults today are seeking alternatives that offer greater independence, community, and financial feasibility. In this article, we take a look at some non-facility-based housing options for seniors, including co-living, co-housing, and shared property investments.

Co-Living: Building Community and Reducing Costs

Co-living is a modern housing solution that emphasizes community living, where multiple unrelated individuals share a single home. Each resident typically has a private bedroom while common areas, such as the kitchen, living room, and sometimes bathrooms, are shared. This arrangement can significantly reduce living expenses and foster social connections among seniors.

Benefits of Co-Living for Seniors:
  • Affordability: Sharing rent, utility costs and, in some cases, food costs makes co-living an economical option for seniors on a fixed income.
  • Social Interaction: Living with others helps combat loneliness and isolation, which are common and serious issues among older adults.
  • Support System: Co-living arrangements can provide a built-in support network for daily tasks and companionship.

Co-Housing: Designing Intentional Communities

Co-housing is another innovative approach to senior living. It involves a community of private homes clustered around shared spaces such as a common house, gardens, and recreational areas. Residents actively participate in the planning and management of the community, fostering a sense of belonging and mutual support.

Benefits of Co-Housing for Seniors:
  • Community Engagement: Co-housing communities often have shared meals, activities, and decision-making processes that promote active participation.
  • Independence with Support: Seniors maintain their independence in private homes while benefiting from communal resources and social networks.
  • Safety and Security: Close-knit communities can enhance safety through collective vigilance and shared responsibilities.

Shared Property Investments: A Financially Savvy Choice

Shared property investments involve a group of seniors jointly purchasing a property. This arrangement can include a single-family home, a multi-unit building, or even a small apartment complex. By pooling resources, seniors can afford higher-quality housing and share maintenance and utility costs.

Benefits of Shared Property Investments:
  • Financial Efficiency: Joint ownership lowers the individual financial burden and provides access to more and potentially better housing options.
  • Customizable Living Arrangements: Seniors can tailor the property to meet their specific needs and preferences.
  • Community and Companionship: Similar to co-housing and co-living, shared property investments encourage social interaction and support.

Making the Right Choice

When considering alternative housing options, it’s essential for seniors to assess their personal preferences, financial situation, and desired level of social engagement. Here are some steps to help make an informed decision:

  • Evaluate Financial Resources: Understand your budget and explore options that align with your financial capacity.
  • Visit Potential Communities: Spend time in co-living or co-housing communities to get a feel for the environment and the people.
  • Consult with a Financial Advisor: A financial advisor can help assess the feasibility of shared property investments and other housing options.
  • Consider Future Needs: Think about potential health or mobility issues and choose a housing option that can accommodate changing needs.

As the concept of aging evolves, so do the housing options available to seniors. Non-facility-based arrangements like co-living, co-housing, and shared property investments offer promising alternatives to traditional senior living facilities. These innovative solutions provide affordability, community, and support, empowering seniors to live independently and vibrantly in their later years. But more needs to be done, and we need to think outside the box and evaluate additional options.

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Aging Redefined: Understanding the New Landscape

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The Evolving Definition of Aging: Seniors vs. Elderly

In recent years, the perception of aging has undergone a significant transformation. With advancements in healthcare, lifestyle changes, and societal shifts, the way we view and categorize older adults has evolved. The distinction between being a “senior” and being “elderly” is increasingly pronounced, reflecting changes in longevity, health, and active engagement in various aspects of life.

Seniors: Active, Engaged, and Redefining Aging

Traditionally, the term “senior” referred to individuals who had reached a certain age, typically 65 and older, marking the transition into retirement and the so-called “golden years”. However, today’s seniors are challenging these stereotypes. Many people in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s are living healthier and more active lives than previous generations. They are redefining what it means to age, often staying in the workforce, pursuing new hobbies, and remaining physically and socially active.

Some of the ways things are changing include:
  • Longevity and Health: Advances in medical science and a greater emphasis on healthy living have contributed to increased life expectancy. Seniors today have access to better healthcare, nutrition, and fitness options, enabling them to maintain their health and vitality longer. Conditions that once limited the activities of older adults are now better managed, allowing seniors to lead more fulfilling lives.
  • Workforce Participation: The concept of retirement is changing. Many seniors are choosing to continue working well past traditional retirement age, whether out of financial necessity, personal fulfillment, or a desire to stay mentally and socially engaged. The modern workforce increasingly values the experience and knowledge that older employees bring, and flexible work arrangements are making it easier for seniors to balance work with other interests.
  • Perception Shift: The word “senior” no longer carries the same connotations of decline and disengagement. Instead, it often signifies a phase of life where individuals have the freedom to explore new opportunities, travel, volunteer, and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways. This shift in perception is helping to break down age-related stereotypes and promote a more positive view of aging.

Elderly: A Stage of Increased Need and Support

On the other hand, the term “elderly” is often used to describe individuals who are in a later stage of life, typically characterized by greater physical and cognitive decline. While many seniors remain active and independent, the elderly often require more support and care due to age-related health issues and decreased mobility.

Some challenges facing our elderly are:

  • Health Challenges:  As people age, they are more likely to experience chronic conditions, frailty, and cognitive decline. The elderly are often more vulnerable to illnesses and may require assistance with daily activities. This stage of life underscores the importance of accessible healthcare, support services, and caregiving options.
  • Support Systems: Family, community, and professional caregivers play a crucial role in supporting the elderly. With the aging population growing, there is an increasing need for services that cater to their specific needs, such as home care, assisted living, and long-term care facilities. Ensuring that these services are compassionate and tailored to individual needs is essential for maintaining the dignity and quality of life for the elderly.
  • Societal Impact: The distinction between seniors and the elderly has significant implications for policy and planning. As people live longer, there is a need for policies that support healthy aging, workforce participation for seniors, and comprehensive care for the elderly. Societies must adapt to these changes by investing in healthcare, social services, and infrastructure that accommodate an aging population.

The evolving distinction between being a senior and being elderly highlights the diverse experiences of aging. While seniors are increasingly viewed as active, engaged members of society, the elderly often require more support and care. Understanding and respecting these differences is crucial for fostering a society that values and supports individuals at every stage of life. As we continue to live longer and healthier lives, it is important to celebrate the contributions of seniors while ensuring that the needs of the elderly are met with compassion and care.

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Beyond the Light: Mysteries of Near-Death Experiences

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Near-Death Experiences: Exploring the Unseen Realm

Near-death experiences (NDEs) have captivated the human imagination for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that they gained significant attention in the scientific and medical communities. Pioneering this exploration was Dr. Raymond Moody.  His groundbreaking work paved the way for a deeper understanding of these profound experiences, which continue to intrigue both skeptics and believers alike.

Dr. Raymond Moody: The Grandfather of NDEs

One might say that Dr. Raymond Moody first brought near-death experiences to life!  He brought these experiences into the public consciousness with his revolutionary book, “Life After Life,” which was published in 1975. Through extensive research and interviews with individuals who had been clinically dead or near death, Moody identified common themes and characteristics that many of these experiences shared. His work established a framework for studying NDEs, laying the foundation for future research.

Moody’s investigations revealed recurring elements such as feelings of peace, out-of-body experiences, traveling through a tunnel, encountering a bright light, and meeting deceased loved ones or spiritual beings. His meticulous documentation and analysis of these accounts provided a compelling argument that NDEs were not merely hallucinations or figments of the imagination, but profound and potentially life-altering experiences.

Similar Experiences Across Cultures and Individuals

NDEs are not confined to a single culture or demographic; they are reported across diverse backgrounds, ages, and belief systems. Despite these differences, many accounts share striking similarities, suggesting a universal aspect to these experiences.

For instance, Tibetan Buddhism describes the “Bardo,” a transitional state between death and rebirth, which parallels many elements of NDEs reported in the West. Similarly, indigenous cultures often have rich traditions of visionary experiences during life-threatening situations, emphasizing journeys to other realms or encounters with ancestors.

Modern accounts of NDEs continue to echo these ancient narratives. Individuals from various walks of life—children, adults, the elderly, the religious, and the non-religious—report experiences that align with Moody’s initial findings. This consistency across time and culture adds a layer of credibility and fascination to the study of NDEs.

The Breadth of Individuals Experiencing NDEs

The phenomenon of NDEs spans a wide spectrum of individuals, demonstrating that these experiences are not limited by age, gender, or cultural background. Children as young as three have reported NDEs with remarkable detail, often describing events or people they could not have known about otherwise. Adults from all professions and walks of life, including doctors, scientists, and skeptics, have shared their transformative NDEs, often leading to profound changes in their perspectives on life and death.

For example, Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon and former skeptic, recounted his NDE in the bestselling book “Proof of Heaven.” His experience during a coma led him to a profound spiritual awakening and a reassessment of his previously materialistic worldview.

Final Thoughts

Near-death experiences offer a glimpse into a realm that lies beyond the confines of our everyday existence. Thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Raymond Moody and the countless individuals who have courageously shared their experiences, we have a richer understanding of this extraordinary phenomenon. As research continues and more stories emerge, the study of NDEs remains a fascinating and vital field, challenging our perceptions of life, death, and what may lie beyond.

By exploring these experiences, we open ourselves to the possibility that our consciousness extends beyond our physical bodies, hinting at a deeper, interconnected reality that transcends the boundaries of time and space. Whether you view NDEs as spiritual awakenings, psychological phenomena, or something else entirely, their profound impact on those who experience them is undeniable, offering a unique and transformative perspective on the mysteries of life and death.

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The Power of Trauma-Informed Care: Healing from Within

trauma-informed care

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-informed care (TIC) is a process of interaction with others that recognizes and responds to the widespread impact of trauma on individuals, families, and communities. Trauma can result from a variety of experiences, including abuse, neglect, violence, loss, and other emotionally harmful events. These experiences can have lasting effects on a person’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

TIC is based on the understanding that trauma is pervasive and that many people have experienced trauma at some point in their lives. Therefore, TIC seeks to create environments that are sensitive to the needs of trauma survivors and that promote healing and recovery.

Key principles of trauma-informed care include:

  • Safety: TIC prioritizes creating a safe environment where individuals feel physically and emotionally secure. This includes ensuring physical safety in the environment and emotional safety in interactions with others.
  • Trustworthiness and Transparency: TIC emphasizes the importance of being trustworthy and transparent in all interactions. This helps build trust with individuals who may have experienced betrayal in the past.
  • Peer Support: TIC recognizes the value of peer support in healing from trauma. Peer support allows individuals to connect with others who have had similar experiences and can provide understanding and validation.
  • Collaboration and Mutuality: TIC involves a collaborative approach where individuals are involved in decision-making about their care. This helps empower individuals and gives them a sense of control over their lives.
  • Empowerment, Voice, and Choice: TIC emphasizes empowering individuals to make choices about their care and treatment. This helps restore a sense of agency that may have been lost due to trauma.
  • Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues: TIC recognizes the impact of culture, history, and gender on trauma experiences. It seeks to be sensitive to these factors and to tailor care accordingly.
  • Resilience and Strengths-Based: TIC focuses on building resilience and identifying strengths in individuals, rather than solely on pathology or deficits. This strengths-based approach helps individuals see themselves in a positive light and fosters hope for the future.

By adopting a trauma-informed approach, organizations and individuals can create environments that promote healing, recovery, and resilience in those who have experienced trauma. Trauma-informed care is not just a set of techniques or interventions; it is a philosophy that informs all aspects of care and interactions.

Teaching Trauma-Informed Care

Teaching trauma-informed care (TIC) involves imparting knowledge, skills, and attitudes that help individuals understand and respond to the effects of trauma. Training in TIC is crucial for healthcare professionals, social service providers, educators, and others who work with individuals who have experienced trauma.

Here’s what is typically included:

  • Understanding Trauma: TIC training starts by educating participants about the prevalence and impact of trauma. This includes learning about different types of trauma, such as interpersonal violence, natural disasters, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
  • The Neurobiology of Trauma: TIC training often covers the neurobiology of trauma, explaining how traumatic experiences can affect the brain and nervous system. This knowledge helps participants understand why individuals may respond to trauma in certain ways.
  • Trauma-Sensitive Practices: TIC training teaches participants how to create trauma-sensitive environments. This includes understanding triggers, avoiding re-traumatization, and promoting a sense of safety and trust.
  • Empathy and Compassion: TIC emphasizes the importance of empathy and compassion in interactions with trauma survivors. Training helps participants develop these qualities and apply them in their work.
  • Self-Care: TIC training includes strategies for self-care, as working with trauma survivors can be emotionally demanding. Participants learn how to recognize and manage their own stress responses.
  • Cultural Competence: TIC training emphasizes the importance of cultural competence in working with trauma survivors from diverse backgrounds. This includes understanding how culture can influence trauma experiences and responses.
  • Trauma-Informed Interventions: TIC training covers evidence-based interventions for trauma, such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Participants learn how to apply these interventions in their practice.
  • Trauma-Informed Systems: TIC training also addresses the need for trauma-informed systems of care. This includes organizational practices that promote trauma-informed principles, such as trauma screening, trauma-informed policies, and trauma-specific services.

Teaching trauma-informed care involves a comprehensive approach, addressing knowledge, skills, and attitudes. By equipping individuals with the tools to understand and respond to trauma, TIC training helps create more supportive and healing environments for trauma survivors.

How Does Trauma-Informed Care Work?

  • Safety: TIC prioritizes safety, ensuring that individuals feel physically and emotionally secure. This includes physical safety in the environment and emotional safety in interactions.
  • Trustworthiness and Transparency: TIC promotes trust by ensuring clear communication and transparency in all interactions. This helps build a sense of security and predictability.
  • Peer Support: Peer support is integral to TIC, as it recognizes the value of individuals with similar experiences supporting each other in their recovery journey.
  • Collaboration and Mutuality: TIC involves a collaborative approach where individuals are involved in decision-making regarding their care. This fosters a sense of empowerment and control.
  • Empowerment, Voice, and Choice: TIC emphasizes empowering individuals to make choices about their care and treatment, giving them a sense of agency in their recovery.
  • Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues: TIC recognizes the impact of culture, history, and gender on trauma experiences and tailors care to be sensitive to these factors.
  • Resilience and Strengths-Based: TIC focuses on building resilience and identifying strengths in individuals, rather than solely on pathology or deficits.

Who Does Trauma-Informed Care Help?

  • Survivors of Trauma: TIC benefits individuals who have experienced trauma by providing a supportive environment for healing and recovery.
  • Communities: TIC can help communities heal from collective trauma by fostering a sense of unity and understanding.
  • Healthcare Providers: TIC helps healthcare providers better understand and respond to the needs of patients who have experienced trauma, improving overall care.
  • Educators: TIC helps educators create safe and supportive learning environments for students who have experienced trauma, improving educational outcomes.
  • Social Service Providers: TIC helps social service providers better support clients who have experienced trauma, leading to more effective interventions and services.

In summary, trauma-informed care is a holistic approach that recognizes the impact of trauma and seeks to create safe, empowering environments for healing and recovery. By understanding the principles and practices of TIC, we can better support individuals and communities affected by trauma.  Check out my Awards and Certifications page to see what my Certification from Alberta Health Services covered.

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Live Better By Caring Less: 8 Secrets For A Happier Life

the art of not caring

8 Simple Ways to Lead a Happier Life

What would you think if I told you that I could reveal 8 secrets that would provide you with more happiness?  What would you say if I told you that you likely already know these secrets and it’s simply a matter of acting on them?

In our modern, technology-driven world, we’re constantly bombarded with demands on our time and attention. From work deadlines to social obligations, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. But by learning to consciously choose where to invest our energy, we can have a profound impact on our wellbeing and quality of life.  When we focus on what truly matters to us and release the rest, we can create a more balanced and fulfilling life.

This principle is at the heart of the “Art of Not Caring”.  Inspired by Buddhist teachings, it’s about recognizing that we have limited energy and time, and choosing to direct them towards things that bring us joy, fulfillment, and peace of mind.

In  this post, we’ll explore eight simple ways to lead a happier life, based on the Art of Not Caring. These principles can help us navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and find greater contentment in the present moment. So, let’s get started!

 1. Allowing for Imperfections

Human nature often compels us to seek perfection in every facet of our lives. We meticulously plan our days, expecting flawless execution and seamless outcomes. Yet, life is inherently imperfect, and this expectation of perfection can lead to stress and disappointment.

Embracing the reality of imperfection can lead to greater peace of mind. By acknowledging that life is unpredictable and imperfect, we can release ourselves from the burden of unrealistic expectations. When we accept that mistakes are a natural part of life, we become more forgiving of ourselves and others. We no longer hold ourselves to impossible standards, which can be freeing. This shift in perspective can reduce stress and anxiety, allowing us to approach life with more ease and grace.

Embracing our own imperfections and those of others allows us to cultivate a more compassionate attitude, and accepting imperfection can lead to a deeper sense of connection with others. When we acknowledge that everyone has flaws and struggles, we become more empathetic and understanding. This compassion strengthens our relationships and enriches our lives.

2. Embracing Mindfulness

Living in the present moment is a concept that is often talked about but can be challenging to practice consistently. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and engaged in the current moment, without judgment. It can help alleviate stress by redirecting our focus from past regrets or future anxieties to living in the the here and now.

When we dwell on the past, we often replay events in our minds, wishing things had been different or regretting past decisions. This reflection can lead to feelings of sadness, guilt, or resentment. Similarly, when we worry about the future, we can feel anxious or overwhelmed by the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

Mindfulness encourages us to accept the past as unchangeable and the future as uncertain. By letting go of our attachment to past events and future outcomes, we can find a more stable peace of mind in the present moment. This doesn’t mean we ignore or suppress our thoughts and feelings about the past or future, but rather we acknowledge them without becoming consumed by them.

Practicing mindfulness allows us to fully experience the present moment, appreciating the beauty and richness of life as it unfolds. This can lead to a greater sense of calm, contentment, and inner peace. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply by bringing awareness to our thoughts and feelings in the present moment.

3. Accepting Struggle and Discomfort

Life is not for the faint of heart! It’s a journey filled with ups and downs, challenges, and hardships. While these struggles may seem overwhelming at times, they also offer valuable lessons and opportunities for personal growth. By acknowledging that life is hard and embracing the lessons learned from difficult experiences, we can cultivate greater resilience and appreciation for life’s joys.

By facing challenges, we’re forced to step out of our comfort zones and confront obstacles head-on. This process of overcoming adversity can help us discover inner strengths and capabilities we never knew we had. It also teaches us valuable life lessons, such as the importance of perseverance, resilience, and adaptability. Going through difficult experiences can also help us learn how to foster empathy and compassion for others who are facing similar challenges. It can deepen our understanding of the human experience and strengthen our connections with others.

By embracing the lessons learned from our struggles, we can find greater meaning and purpose in our lives. We can develop a greater appreciation for life’s simple joys and blessings. Adversity can teach us to savor the good times and be grateful for the positive aspects of our lives.

4. Practicing Self-Compassion

Forgiveness is a powerful act that can bring peace and healing, both to ourselves and to others. However, many of us find it easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. We may hold onto past mistakes and shortcomings, constantly berating ourselves for not meeting our own standards. This self-criticism can be detrimental to our mental and emotional well-being, leading to feelings of inadequacy, shame, and unhappiness. It can also contribute to stress and anxiety, as we constantly strive for perfection and fear making mistakes.

Practicing self-compassion involves treating ourselves with the same kindness and understanding that we would offer a friend facing a similar situation. It means acknowledging our imperfections and mistakes, but also recognizing that these do not define our worth as individuals. Forgiving ourselves is not about excusing or forgetting our actions, but rather about accepting them and learning from them. It involves recognizing that we are human, and therefore fallible, and that making mistakes is a natural part of the human experience.

By practicing self-compassion, we can release ourselves from the burden of self-criticism and find greater peace and happiness in our lives. We can learn to be kinder and more forgiving towards ourselves, allowing us to move forward with greater confidence and resilience.

5. Reducing Your Ego

A healthy sense of self is crucial for our well-being and success. It gives us confidence, resilience, and a strong sense of identity. However, when our sense of self becomes inflated, it can lead to selfish behavior, arrogance, and ultimately, unhappiness.  An inflated ego can cause us to prioritize our own needs and desires above those of others, leading to a lack of empathy and compassion. This can create friction in our relationships, hinder our personal growth, and contribute to feelings of isolation and discontentment.

Examining our motivations is key to reducing ego-driven decision-making. It involves taking a step back and honestly assessing why we do what we do. Are our actions driven by a genuine desire to contribute positively to the world, or are they motivated by a need for recognition, power, or status?  By reducing ego-driven decision-making, we can cultivate a more balanced and compassionate approach to life.

Cultivating a more balanced and compassionate approach to life requires humility, self-awareness, and empathy. It means acknowledging our strengths and accomplishments without letting them define our worth. It also involves being open to feedback, learning from our mistakes, and treating others with kindness and respect. Reducing our ego allows us to form deeper connections with others, collaborate more effectively, and lead with humility and integrity. It also frees us from the constant pressure to prove ourselves, allowing us to focus on what truly matters in life: meaningful relationships, personal growth, and making a positive impact on the world.

6. Letting Go of Expectations

Expectations are a natural part of being human.  But when they become rigid and unyielding, they can lead to disappointment and unnecessary stress. We often create expectations based on our desires, hopes, and past experiences, expecting things to unfold in a certain way. However, life is inherently unpredictable, and things don’t always go according to plan.

When our expectations are not met, we can feel let down, frustrated, or disillusioned. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and a sense of loss or failure. Rigid expectations can also prevent us from fully experiencing and appreciating the present moment, as we are constantly focused on what we believe should happen rather than what is actually happening.

By letting go of rigid expectations and allowing life to unfold naturally, we can find greater contentment and adaptability in the face of life’s uncertainties. This doesn’t mean giving up on our goals or ambitions, but rather being open to different outcomes and embracing the journey, no matter where it leads. Letting go of expectations requires a shift in mindset. Instead of viewing unmet expectations as failures, we can see them as opportunities for growth and learning. We can practice acceptance and gratitude for what we have, rather than dwelling on what we think we should have.

Embracing life’s uncertainties can also lead to greater resilience and flexibility. When we are able to adapt to change and navigate life’s twists and turns with grace and acceptance, we can find a deeper sense of peace and fulfillment.

7. Acknowledging Discomfort

Life is full of uncomfortable situations that can range from minor inconveniences to major challenges. These situations can trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, and discomfort. While it’s natural to want to avoid or resist these uncomfortable feelings, doing so often only seems to attract more discomfort.

When we resist discomfort, we tend to give it more power over us. We may ruminate on negative thoughts, avoid confronting difficult situations, or engage in behaviors that provide temporary relief.  But these reactions ultimately prolong our discomfort.

On the other hand, when we acknowledge and embrace discomfort, we can learn to navigate challenging situations with greater ease and resilience. Acknowledging discomfort involves recognizing and accepting our feelings without judgment or resistance. This can help us gain clarity about the situation and our reactions to it.  Embracing discomfort means being willing to sit with our feelings and explore their underlying causes. It involves being open to learning from the experience and using it as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.

By acknowledging and embracing discomfort, we can develop greater emotional resilience and coping skills. We can learn to face difficult situations with more confidence and inner strength. Rather than being overwhelmed by discomfort, we can learn to navigate it with grace and poise.

8. Embracing Life’s Impermanence

Embracing the impermanence of life is a profound concept that can transform the way we experience the world. It involves recognizing that everything in life is in a constant state of flux, including our thoughts, feelings, relationships, and circumstances. By acknowledging this fundamental truth, we can cultivate a deeper appreciation for the present moment and let go of our attachment to specific outcomes.

When we cling to the idea that things should remain the same or that we can control the future, we set ourselves up for disappointment and frustration. Life is inherently unpredictable, and trying to hold onto fixed expectations only leads to suffering. However, by embracing the impermanence of life, we can find freedom in letting go of our attachment to specific outcomes.

Embracing impermanence also allows us to fully appreciate the present moment. When we are not preoccupied with thoughts of the past or future, we can experience life more fully and deeply, savoring life’s simple pleasures. It can lead to greater peace and acceptance in the face of life’s ups and downs. When we understand that difficult times are temporary and that change is inevitable, we can approach challenges with a sense of composure. We can learn to accept life’s changes with grace and resilience, knowing that they are an inherent part of the human experience.

Embracing the Art of Not Caring to Age with Grace and Acceptance

As we age, it becomes increasingly important to manage all aspects of our health, including physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. The Art of Not Caring offers valuable insights into how we can enhance our quality of life and find more hope and inspiration as we age.

By consciously choosing where to invest our energy, focusing on what matters most, and releasing the rest, we can create a more balanced and fulfilling life. Embracing imperfection, practicing mindfulness, and accepting struggle can help us navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and resilience. As we let go of rigid expectations and embrace life’s impermanence, we can find greater peace and acceptance in the present moment. This approach to life can enhance our overall wellbeing and give us a more positive outlook on aging.

So, as we journey through life, remember that the art of aging well involves managing all aspects of your health and embracing concepts that can enhance your quality of life. By incorporating these principles into your daily life, you can find more joy, fulfillment, and peace as you age.

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Your questions and comments are always welcome! Contact us to learn more.

If you’d like to read the article that inspired this post, you can download it here.

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