BTG Hope

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Philadelphia Consortium Projects

Older Adults

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Social Media for Older Adult Advocacy, Education and Empowerment

Student Intern:
Katharine Vengraitis, Drexel University, School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor:
Vincent Zarro, MD, PhD, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions

Community Preceptor:
Lori Walsh, Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE)

The Community Site:
The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE) is dedicated to improving the quality of life of older adults. The organization seeks to accomplish advocacy, education and action through a “case to cause” model of advocacy that promotes equal access to justice and addresses problems and issues on both the individual and systemic levels. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication

The Project:
As a local advocacy partner in the National Council on Aging’s One Away campaign, which addressed elder economic security, CARIE became interested in using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs. Katharine’s role was to develop and manage CARIE’s social media in conjunction with the One Away campaign, while also addressing other issues central to CARIE’s mission. Topics covered on Twitter, Facebook and the blog have included how budget cuts affect older adults, access to transportation, LGBT older adults in long-term care, emergency preparedness for older adults, the role of caregivers and resources for these individuals. Katharine accomplished this by researching issues, following the news, following social media put out by similar organizations, participating in webinars and creating posts that reflect CARIE’s unique expertise and mission. Katherine strengthened her knowledge of the issues affecting older adults by visiting older-adult day programs, nursing homes and personal care homes, and by seeing the Pennsylvania Educated Empowered Resident (PEER) program in action. The result of the project has been a better understanding of the power social media has to virtually connect advocates and those they seek to empower while advancing an organization’s mission. Katharine reflected, “CARIE’s approach to advocacy has shown me the importance of education to empower people so they have the tools to resolve an issue, be it nursing home abuse and neglect; elder abuse in a domestic setting; Medicare fraud; or understanding and applying for benefits such as LIHEAP, SSI, TANF and SNAP. I have learned more in seven weeks about the reality of Medicare than I did after studying it for a year in school. Seeing the advocacy work in which CARIE engages has reaffirmed for me that I am pursuing a career path about which I am passionate and for which there is a great need.”

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Never Stop Learning

Student Interns:
Maureen Cunningham, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
Radha Sadacharan, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Academic Preceptor:
Lauren Collins, MD, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Bolden, Philadelphia Senior Center, Services on Site

The Community Site:
Services on Site, a component program of the Philadelphia Senior Center, provides outreach to neighborhood senior communities in order to promote positive interaction and advance well-being within the older adult population. Community sites include Anthony Wayne Senior Housing, Casa Farnese, Landreth Apartments, Reed Street Apartments, Scottish Rite Tower and Scottish Rite House. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Maureen and Radha worked with Services on Site to deliver a series of health-based talks and activities that promoted healthy living among seniors at six community sites. The talks focused on nutrition, staying mentally and physically active, and oral and cardiovascular health. The interns also included activities such as line dancing, jeopardy, and other games to generate interest in the talks. Maureen said, “BTG was an eye-opening experience. I was able to learn that the elderly population has many stories. … They taught me to love and make the most of my career, and to always start by listening.” Radha added, “I came into this internship thinking that I would be helping to educate seniors about healthy lifestyles, but they ended up educating me. I hope that we can continue to appreciate the wisdom that this generation possesses. Looking ahead as a health care provider, I will be able to use the knowledge I have gained through BTG to establish better partnerships with my patients, in which we will be able to learn from each other.”

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Health Education for Seniors: A Pathological Approach

Student Interns:
Adam Batog, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
James Harrigan, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Pharmacy Practice/Pharmacy Administration Department

Academic Preceptors:
Eugene Mochan, PhD, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Ruth L. Schemm, EdD, OTR/L, University of the Sciences, Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policies, Department of Health Policy and Public Health

Community Preceptor:
Rebecca Kochman, MSW, Intercommunity Action, Inc., Journey’s Way

The Community Site:
The aging services department of Intercommunity Action, Inc., Journey’s Way offers programs for people aged 55 and over, including lifelong learning, health, fitness, volunteer, recreational and travel programs, and social services for independent older adults. The Adult Day Services Center provides older adults who need supervision with an individualized program that includes lunch and snacks, recreation and socialization, and support for family caregivers. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
James and Adam assisted the Journey’s Way staff in providing services and activities for adult members over 55. Their primary contribution to the center involved weekly interactive seminars on various health topics, including nutrition, hypertension and cardiovascular health, diabetes, respiratory disorders and oral health. The goal of these seminars was to share information to assist members in making informed choices about their health, and to help them realize that they are valuable members of their own health care teams. At Journey’s Way Adult Day Services Center, the interns participated in many activities designed to challenge both the mind and body. Adam said, “As an intern at Journey’s Way I was privileged to provide important health information to a group of older adults passionate to learn more about healthy living. It was a unique experience to learn the basics of how a nonprofit system such as Journey’s Way works. As a future physician I will benefit immensely from my knowledge of community organizations and be able to connect my patients to helpful community associations to further improve their health in a more holistic manner.” James noted, “Journey’s Way has shown me, if nothing else, that there is no age where one must stop living. The enthusiasm that the members expressed at the opportunity to learn about their health reminded me that patients are still willing to be a part of their health care team. As much as we tried to teach the members of Journey’s Way, it seems like they have taught us even more.”

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Taking Steps Toward a Healthier and Happier LIFE

Student Interns:
Kelsey Hart-Livingston, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice
Nicholas Mueller, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Jeffrey Draine, PhD, MSW, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Monique Dowd, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, LIFE A Clinical Practice of Penn Nursing
Lisa Eible, LCSW, MSW, LIFE A Clinical Practice of Penn Nursing

The Community Site:
Living Independently for Elders (LIFE), a clinical practice of Penn Nursing and a PACE Program in West Philadelphia, provides all-inclusive care for 400 frail, older adults in the community. This comprehensive, interdisciplinary program provides total medical and social care while allowing participants to remain living in their own homes. Services include meals, transportation, physical therapy, social services, family support, recreational therapy, medical treatment and personal care. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Environmental Health; Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health

The Project:
Kelsey and Nicholas’s role at Living Independently for Elders (LIFE) was to familiarize themselves with the daily operations of the program through interactions with the members and observations of the program. This included attending daily morning meetings, participating in group activities, leading small groups and spending time with the dietitian. From the information the interns gathered through personal interviews with members, they were able to formulate and implement a food and environmental health survey to provide LIFE with insight into some of the current strengths and weaknesses of the dining services. Through their experiences at LIFE, Kelsey and Nicholas gained a better understanding of the importance of a well-integrated professional team in the delivery of health care services to the elderly. Kelsey reflected, “Working at the LIFE center gave me the chance to experience a multidisciplinary approach to health care for the elderly population. While empowering the elders to use their voices to share their nutrition and dining suggestions, I practiced active listening skills, as well as personal interaction skills, which will be beneficial to my professional development. BTG CHIP provided an excellent platform for me to become professionally proficient, while creating opportunities for personal and social growth.” Nicholas noted, “Working at the LIFE center this summer has definitely been a step outside of my comfort zone and therefore a great learning opportunity. These experiences have ultimately provided me with a more in-depth view into the comprehensive care of the elderly and the important role each team member plays in the overall success of the patient. Significant one-to-one discussion with members has also been a valuable and enriching addition to my professional development as a future health care provider. And with nutrition and oral health care being major focus areas of the program and my specific community site, I have enjoyed using and advancing my skills in these areas simultaneously.” 

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Where Good Friends Meet for Great Activities

Student Interns:
Kim Brozosky, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Occupational Therapy
Shanshan Wu, Temple University, School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptor:
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Peggy Eagle, BS/MHT, Lutheran Settlement House, Senior Center
Michelle Lutz, BSW, Lutheran Settlement House, Senior Center

The Community Site:
Lutheran Settlement House Senior Center, located in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, supports vital, active, independent lifestyles and cultivates community connections. The older adults are encouraged to take an active role in leading a self-determined life. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Kim and Shan, working under the supervision of the Lutheran Settlement House Senior Center staff, created an older adult health promotion program. Using an interest checklist the interns identified health topics that were relevant to the members. Then they created activities and informational handouts that would engage the members both mentally and physically. The topics of discussion included nutrition, diabetes, heart disease, physical activities, prescription medications, oral health, arthritis and fall prevention. Kim stated, “Listen! Older adults have wonderful experiences and stories to tell. Learning more about the individual will improve the health care professional’s capability to help the person, and as a result, make you a better person.” Shan noted, “The experience during BTG was unforgettable and yet challenging in some ways. Communicating with seniors is just like communicating with my future clients. I learned to be patient and considerate.”

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The Many Flavors of the World

Student Interns:
Laura Hackenberger, Drexel University, School of Public Health
Kristine Winner, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Academic Preceptor:
Ray Lum, MPhil, MS, Drexel University, School of Public Health

Community Preceptor:
Tara Swartzendruber-Landis, Nationalities Service Center, Nationalities Senior Center

The Community Site:
The Nationalities Senior Center, a component program of the Nationalities Service Center, is a geriatric activities day center located in North Philadelphia. Refugee and immigrant seniors from many different countries attend the center to participate in culture-specific activities and to access services in their native languages. Other activities include exercise classes and community gardening. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Laura and Kristine assisted Nationalities Senior Center staff in creating a cookbook consisting of member-contributed recipes traditional to their respective countries. Related to this project, the interns interviewed seniors for recipes, assisted in maintenance of the garden, compiled information about vegetables grown in the garden, and gave a presentation on watering for the senior gardeners. Additionally, Laura and Kristine spent time socializing and interacting with the seniors, listening to their stories of immigration and their feelings about coming to the United States, and getting to know these unique individuals. They found their place in the routine of the center by participating in games, and discovered the members’ talents as they created the Heart Smart poster. Kristine reflected, “What really became clear to me over the summer was the importance of both ritual and community. You can see the comfort in coming to the same place, every day, to play favorite traditional games with a group of people who share the same culture. The consistency appears comforting to many of the members, in having a group of friends with whom they can relate, and a group that expects and enjoys their company. I was lucky enough to strike up an acquaintanceship with one member here who shared with me the story of his immigration; he told me about the history of Vietnam and some of the traditional foods, even showed me paintings he had done depicting images from his country. It was wonderful to gain the amount of trust that allowed me to peek into his world.” Laura commented, “I really feel that my BTG experience this summer opened my eyes to new worlds that I had never seen before, both within Philadelphia and on the other side of the globe. I became friends with the seniors and looked forward to spending time with them every day, and I got a sense that this was mutual. I learned so much about them and their cultures that I am left hungry to know more. Not only will I use the knowledge I gained this summer about the seniors and their cultures in my future cooking endeavors, I will also approach my career with greater cultural awareness.”

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Healthy Summer Living, 2011

Student Interns:
Melinda Daliani, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Nursing
Kirten Parekh, Temple University, School of Podiatric Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Phillys Diamond, NewCourtland Senior Centers
Fayette Smith, NewCourtland Senior Centers
 
The Community Site:
NewCourtland Senior Centers (Lehigh and Spring Garden) are a network of community centers in North Philadelphia that offer affordable housing, partnerships for health care, and educational services to seniors in the greater Philadelphia area. NewCourtland takes a holistic approach to incorporating every aspect of life, from family and friends to interests and programs that enable seniors to age in place and live independently. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication; Mental Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
At NewCourtland, Melinda and Kirten worked with the New Medicine Lectures series to inform the members of the Lehigh and Spring Garden Senior Centers about upcoming treatments, new discoveries in nutrition and new devices relevant to the geriatric population. Each week they gave a presentation followed by a question-and-answer session, during which the members could talk about their own ailments and how they related to the new medicine. Melinda said, “Working at Lehigh Senior Center and Spring Garden Center was a great and challenging experience at the same time. I enjoyed working with seniors of both centers, and discussing different health issues with them … such as diabetes, heart health, nutrition, oral health, heat wave, sociocultural issues, etc. It was really an enjoyable experience.” Kirten noted, “Working at Lehigh and Spring Garden was an interesting experience. I learned a lot about how these centers are run through PCA … while meeting some fantastic people from North Philly.”

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Bridging the Generational Gap

Student Intern:
Janice Valko, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Vincent Zarro, MD, PhD, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions

Community Preceptors:
Beth Cwinklinski, MSW, NewCourtland LIFE
Agina Shaw, NewCourtland LIFE

The Community Site:
The NewCourtland LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) Program, located in Northwest Philadelphia, provides all-inclusive care for frail elderly adults. The program serves individuals who are aged 60 and older and certified by the state of Pennsylvania to be in need of nursing home care, yet are able to live safely at home. It delivers all needed medical and supportive services, and provides the entire continuum of care and services to seniors with chronic needs, while helping seniors maintain independence in their homes for as long as possible. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Mental Health; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Janice worked with the recreation therapy team at NewCourtland LIFE in Germantown. She became involved in the day-to-day activities at the center, including attending morning meetings of the multidisciplinary staff and forming relationships with the participants throughout their activities. Janice planned activities with the seniors, including a chair yoga class, a nutrition game and an oral health presentation. In addition, she assisted in facilitating an intergenerational art project in which the older adults worked with fifth-grade girls to make community maps. Janice also participated in less formal activities, such as card games, reading with participants and field trips, and attended care plan meetings where participants’ plans of care were discussed. Janice noted, “Working at NewCourtland LIFE for my BTG CHIP internship has been a perspective-building and defining experience. I now better understand the needs of senior citizens and also their various attitudes towards their lives. The participants run the gamut of cognitive status, but I saw several instances when a participant would do something I did not realize that they were still capable of, such as singing a song or giving someone a comforting touch. Seeing firsthand how the LIFE multidisciplinary team communicates in order to care for each person, I was able to gain insight as to how people of different professions approach the same issue in different mind-sets.”

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Old Bones, Strong Hearts, Young Spirits: A Summer at the Philadelphia Senior Center

Student Interns:
Elizabeth Edmonds, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
Christopher McGrath, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Academic Preceptor:
Caryn Johnson, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Health Professions

Community Preceptor:
Charles Brown, MSW, LSW, Philadelphia Senior Center, South Broad Street Branch

The Community Site:
The Philadelphia Senior Center (PSC) main branch on South Broad Street helps adults aged 55 and older meet their basic needs and enhance their quality of life. The center offers a variety of activities including art classes, poetry workshops, line dancing, tai chi, drama, walking clubs, chorus and health support groups. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Liz and Chris orchestrated numerous health-related classes and educational events at the main branch of the Philadelphia Senior Center (PSC). The lessons and activities were designed to increase knowledge, raise awareness, and address concerns regarding health issues among the elderly. Topics covered included heart health, joint care, mental health, vaccinations, weight management, oral health and more. In addition to teaching and facilitating group activities, Liz and Chris assisted in the distribution of produce vouchers and fans to qualifying seniors. Liz said, “The older adults at the PSC have taught me about the importance of communication and relationship building when it comes to providing health care. Developing programs for the members of PSC has been both challenging and rewarding, and I learned a lot about the importance of partnership, interactive activities and building trust. Finally, I experienced the impact of race, class and gender on health care and am so glad that I had these experiences before beginning my own practice of occupational therapy.” Chris said, “Working with the seniors at the PSC has encouraged me to let go of preconceptions and learn from a population whose abilities, wisdom and input often get overlooked. While leading classes I learned to adapt my skills to meet the needs of the PSC members, and while speaking one-to-one with seniors I learned that listening can sometimes be more beneficial than lecturing on heart disease or vaccinations. I am grateful for the experience and hope that my impact on the seniors at the PSC in some way matches their impact on me.”

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Aging, Feeling Fabulous and Having Fun

Student Interns:
Felicity Garrick, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Occupational Therapy
Shannone Nicholson, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Nursing

Academic Preceptor:
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Julie Nelson, Philadelphia Senior Center, Tioga Branch

The Community Site:
The mission of the Philadelphia Senior Center Tioga Branch is to advance the well-being and personal growth of all people aged 55 and older in the greater Philadelphia area by connecting them to services and resources to help them learn and discover new ways to be actively engaged in living healthy lives. The Tioga Branch has been serving the community for 39 years. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior

The Project:
Felicity and Shannone worked with the staff and members of the Philadelphia Senior Center (PSC) Tioga Branch. The interns participated in stimulating activities such as line dancing, aerobics, weight training, bingo, pinochle, sing-alongs, shopping and health seminars, all of which promoted physical, mental and spiritual health. Felicity noted, “I feel that as much as I was able to help the seniors by promoting healthy living, I can honestly say they truly impacted my life by providing me with so much wisdom. The seniors truly inspired me and gave me a deeper desire to pursue my goals. They taught me to continue living life to the fullest no matter the circumstances and to appreciate the ups and downs in life.” Shannone said, “Working in the PSC has been an incredible experience. The members possess and are eager to share wisdom and knowledge. I have learned of their past and present struggles, pains and joys. What I have learned most, while being a part of BTG and Tioga Branch, is that life is an evolving and ever-changing process, requires adaptation, and is happier and healthier when we are active within our communities.”

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Possibilities for Change in Older Adults

Student Intern:
Erika Barrington, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Academic Preceptor:
Vincent Zarro, MD, PhD, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions

Community Preceptors:
Roberta Balsam, MA, Unitarian Universalist House, Outreach Program
Mary J. Fallon, MA, NHA, Unitarian Universalist House, Outreach Program
Lynn Trimborn, RN, Unitarian Universalist House, Outreach Program

The Community Site:
The Unitarian Universalist House Outreach Program works within the Northwest Philadelphia community. The primary goal of the Outreach Program is to provide older individuals with resources to assist them in maintaining independent lifestyles in their own residences. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Injury and Violence Prevention; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Erika worked with the Unitarian Universalist (UU) House Outreach Program on issues relating to exercise/physical health with older adults in the community and with residents of the Maple Village apartments, where the Outreach office is located. She collaborated with the social worker and neighborhood nurse on the weekly walking program by developing informational packets to help the participants learn about health-related issues connected with walking (e.g., breathing, balance and motivation); helping participants track their steps each week and make a goal for the next week; leading activities about health issues; walking with the group; and organizing a binder that explained the walking program components for future grant proposals. Erika also met with two older adults individually, focusing on increased walking with one client and balance exercises for fall prevention with the other client. Erika had the opportunity to lead exercise groups with some residents at Maple Village that combined elements of a traditional exercise group and a dance/movement therapy group. In addition, throughout the summer, Erika was able to observe the staff at the UU Outreach Program office assisting clients with various issues and connecting them to resources in the community, and in the field measuring clients’ windows to install free air conditioners and performing initial client assessment interviews. Erika reflected, “This summer has been so much for me about bridging the gaps in my knowledge about the health issues of older adults. I was so grateful for the kindness and open-heartedness of the walking program participants and the clients I saw individually. They graciously let me ask so many questions and shared stories that helped me understand their individual experience and gave me a broader sense of the experience of an older adult in the Northwest Philadelphia region. The staff members at the UU Outreach Program were also instrumental in helping me build this understanding. After this summer I believe strongly that I can make changes in my life and my health no matter how old I am, and I feel more aware that aging is a complex process, unique for each person.”

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