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Ok, I have been putting off posting this topic because I realize many folks here have much more serious problems to discuss than a dilemma like this. That is, it may not seem like a dilemma to anyone else but me --- however, I am choosing to "bite the bullet" because it's the problem I'm having related to my 76 year old Dad. .

My Dad has been in assisted living and now a nursing home for 5 months or so. He gets the occassional visit from my brother and his family. Once a week someone from the church comes to give him communion. He, also, has a weekly visit with his counselor. Friends rarely visit because they're either busy or have health problems themselves.

I feel like I should visit Dad every other day. I love him and I want him to know that he's not forgotten. My problem is that I have begun seeing these visits as a chore, an obligation and something I don't look forward to.

First of all, it's incredibly depressing to me that he now lives in a room with little more than a bed, a dresser and a tv. I walk down the hallway to his room and see other folks who seem to be in far worse condition and think, "Dad doesn't belong here!"

When I get to his room, he's usually in his wheelchair watching tv. The usual topics of conversation aren't on the table. Like we'd exchange conversation about what we'd been doing for the past couple of days. For him, we're pretty much down to whether or not he had a BM that day. I've stopped asking who he's talked to lately because it's so sad to hear him say nobody has visited or called him. As for me, my life hardly changes from day to day and I'm sure he's not interested in dustball stories or money woes.

Please tell me what kinds of things you talk with your Mom or Dad about when you go to visit them. A lot of time we just watch tv together or the subject of my Mom comes up. She died 8 months ago and we do have a lot of grief to share --- I have brought Dad small photo albums I made with pictures of Mom and the two of them together which he seems to appreciate.

Dad used to be a voracious reader so we could talk books or even the latest movie we had seen. That's out because he doesn't have the attention span to do any heavy reading and we don't go to the theatre any more. I bought him a Scrabble game for Christmas and now realize he just doesn't have the patience or concentration to get through a game.

I bring him dinner or dessert or something to drink on a regular basis. So we eat together and that's something familiar --- comforting.

My other question has to do with frequency of visits and the length of time of visits. What seems like the right amount of visits per week for anyone who has a Dad or Mom in a home? When I let 3 days go by without visiting him, I feel guilty --- maybe I should alternate between calls and visits. Right now I rarely call since I see him so often. Also, I feel like I should stay an hour but sometimes it's just too much and 20-25 minutes is my limit on some days. Again, I feel guilty when I don't stay longer.

I appreciate the opportunity to share what's been on my mind for a while so thanks for reading if you've gotten this far. I look forward to finding out how other caregivers handle visits.

Thank you!

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Carol, you are doing a fine job with your Dad. Everyone's situation is different, so I would say just do what you feel is right for you. So many people here have made wonderful suggestions. As for myself, my 88 y/o Mom is in a NH a little over a year, and it is about a half hour away. Prior to her going there, I was pretty much burned out with the emotional and physical strain of her care. I deliberately limit myself to once a week visits. The conversation becomes shorter and more repetitive as her dementia progresses. I do bring in food/coffee/snacks (she loves a nice hot cup of DunkinDonuts coffee), bring her clean and pressed clothing every week, and pack up the dirty laundry. We watch TV - she loves wheel of fortune. Sometimes I will do her nails or trim her hair. The visits last between 1 - 2 hours. Generally, once a month I take her out to the hairdresser along with my Uncle for their haircare, and then we go to lunch or early dinner. These outings of course are intended to be pleasant and for the most part are. But they are very strenuous for me due to both of their physical limitations. Added to that, Mom sometimes reaches a point where she starts to get very argumentive and critical of me, and then I know I've kept her out too long. I put on some American Standard music from the 40's while we are driving, to keep her in a good mood as long as possible on the drive back to the NH. None of this is easy for caregivers, but it is important to recognize your own limitations and not feel guilty for what you cannot do.
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Carol, it sounds to me like you're doing a very, very good job in what you're doing in the visiting department! And for heaven's sake, going every other day to see him is exemplary, BUT if you feel you can't continue to visit so often then you must stop, and more importantly, stop beating yourself up over it if you have to cut back visits. It is counterproductive for both you and yr. dad. Let me tell you something: mom is in a nursing home, my husband, daughter (19) & I live with dad in his home and we can't get DAD to come on our visits with mom! So don't think it's horrible of you to have a hard time going frequently.

My mom has only me, one wonderful cousin and my sister who visit her; no friends have ever visited; other family members are either dead or live far away. My husband works 2 jobs, my daughter 3 part time jobs; they are stretched to the limit so 90% of the caregiving of dad falls on me, thru no fault of theirs. It's a tough economy! We have to do what we do simply to be able to keep somewhat abreast of bills and eat.

What you do w/yr dad on your visits is pretty much the same that I do with my mom. And it's hard. Everytime I have to gear myself up to seeing her as it's so heartbreakingly depressing for me to see her in the debilitating condition she's in. I've even cried to the CNAs and nurses about my being a negligent daughter and THEY have reassured me that no, I'm not; I've got a full plate and am doing the best I can.

You must realize this is true. If you cannot see dad as often as you feel you "should", believe me, you are feeling this way because you are stretched too thin, unhappy at a situation you can't change....but truly your dad is most likely doing well where he is. He has other regular visits from different faces & that's good too.

Start feeling better about yourself! Everything you are feeling is exactly the same thing I have felt & others here have too. Many, many hugs, support and encouragement that you stay strong, take each day step by step and focus on the beautiful in the world. And keep writing here! It has been a godsend for me!
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Mom asked the social worker that she wanted to speak to her. Most likely it's about finding another place to live. She told me that she wanted to talk to thesocialworker about that. I hope the social worker does not discourage her, but after speaking to my mom she can do some things to fix her complaints. Mom was always a complainer. Never could see the best in most situations
She may be so convinced that I'm concerned that she will eat less and fall back in depression because she's not getting her way. Yikes.
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Equinox, there are times that a new facility will make life better for someone, but from what you are describing, this is not one of those times. You can look around and see if other nearby places are even available, and try to find out from Mom more specifically what she does not like, but if it is a case of just not wanting to be around other people who are confused and needing help, moving to another facility would not likely change that at all. The main thing is that she is doing well, or as well as possible, and it may just be unrealistic to expect for her to be totally happy with the situation of needing care. Letting her complain may be the right move. Maybe the facility social worker or one of the therapists or activity directors would have some ideas of how to cheer her up adn make her life better if possible, and a talk with them might help you see it from a less "guilty" perspective and make the best decisions for Mom too.
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Hello
very good ideas and you all have so much compassion. My mom has been in NH since last April.In the course of one year I have seen her loose 25 pounds gain it back when she was adjusting period. I have seen her go forward in her strength and back and forth. Now I must say she's just like she was before she went to the NH. She is wheelchair bound, incontence, stubborn, . I can see that she does forget when asked if she had lunch. Then she will remember. That's when I'm asking others whether she came to the dinning area. At this time looks like she thinks she is feeling better, and I know she is. She makes comments about people,"I don't like these people thhe way they look" she is asking to leave the NH that she's in now. My thoughts are where. She is close to my house, her sisters, who is 87 and drives to the NH Atleast once a week. I don't want to be unhappy . Even when she was in independent living she was saying the same thing. Don't know what to say anymore. I am thinking of letting her talk and avoid the subject.
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Raven1,
What a brave and honest post! It isn't easy to suspend judgement, when our experience has been different.

My mother, who never spent a day in a NH, said, "I know that if I go to a NH, your father will never be able to visit me there." She didn't admire that about him, but she recognized and accepted it. She, too, had to work to accept others' ways of doing things.
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When I read your question I have to admit I was angry that you had placed your father in a nursing home where no one comes to visit and he sits in his room watching TV alone. It really bothered me that you wanted to know how many days a week you had to go visit and how long you had to stay. I just kept thinking so if the tables were turned, how many days would you want someone to come see you and how long would you want them to stay and why is it the responsibility of friends and church members to visit your father, he is YOUR father.

In my family I saw my mother and aunt spend every single day at the nursing home with their mother....all day long and it didn't matter that they had kids, we could take care of ourselves. I then watched my Mom do the same for her sister at the hospital and nursing home. My father died in the hospital but my Mom spent every night sleeping in a bed next to him to be there for him. I now care for my mother at home and have promised her that I will never put her in a nursing home, unless she is so ill and in need of medication that I cannot administer at home.

But this is my family, it isn't every family. I had to think about how to answer your question and all I felt was anger, so I ate dinner with my daughter and niece and asked them what they would think they would do. I was surprised by their answers.

They both said, it depended on what their circumstances were at the time, married, children, or work. One said they think they would be there every other day, the other said at least once a week if every other day was impossible. As far as time goes they did not have a specific time but both felt that an hour at minimum was not asking too much. Their answers changed my thoughts on what a child should be expected to do for their parent. I will continue to care for my mother every single day, all day long, but it isn't right that I should feel you are neglecting your father for not doing what I do.

I have to say that I am extremely impressed by the advice these other ladies have given you as things to do with your father when you visit. Please try some of them and if he isn't interested today, he may be tomorrow or next week so keep trying. Get books on tape and sit and listen to them with him if you don't want to read. Do use music that is really good for a lot of people. You might see if you could record him talking about his life growing up, we got my father to write about his life and it is such a blessing to read now. Bring him the newspaper every day and sit and read with him. There really are all kinds of things you can do to occupy your time and bring him enjoyment during your visits.

I apologize to you for being angry that you had placed your father in a nursing home, your question has made me grow up and have a talk with my daughter and niece about what they think they would do. We each have to live with our decisions in life and not everyone's decision will be the same.

God Bless you and your Father on this journey!
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not a big fan of primate penis iz what im sayin..
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my mom was in AL for 3 months about 4 years ago. i used to have dinner with her too for a minimal amount of money. to be honest it tasted like 3 feet of beat up monkey d*** and only strengthened my resolve to get her home..
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I just lost my Mom a month ago... I don't regret a day I spent with her... Some were better than others but I can look back now and say I did the best I could. I visited my Mom everyday... Not because I had to but because I wanted to... She gave me life and I wanted to be there through hers.. You don't have to entertain them as some one else said, just to be there... to touch and smile and laugh with them... I too kept lotion and put some on her legs and feet when Iput her socks and shoes on. she loved it so much... she would often say don't forget this leg... Right now I would love to go over and just touch her one more time... Enjoy them while you have them....
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Carol72156, Let's face it, nursing homes ARE depressing I think so you sure aren't alone thinking that. When my mother-in-law was in a nursing home TWICE for both broken hips in the span of 2 years, she had to go to a nursing home for a couple of months for rehab. I would go see her, take her for a stroll out in the courtyard pushing her wheelchair and sit and talk in the fresh air. She eventually was able to take short trips in my car with me, so I'd take her whenever I could just to get her out of there for awhile. The guilt I felt when I didn't go see her was because I thought it was MY job to keep her entertained so she didn't have to watch TV all day and stay cooped up. I started bringing a big platter of cookies every single Friday for the people that took care of her specifically. They became really responsive to me when I asked them to make sure she got into that wheelchair every day, with the feet out of the way so she could wheel herself around, which she did eventually. I don't know what your dads mental state is, but if he can work a small CD player or tape player, he can listen to books or music instead of the TV only. Maybe it would be helpful if you tell him exactly what days you're coming, so you don't feel guilty on the days you're NOT there. He's not expecting you, so let the guilt go.... that day at least. ♥
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I think it's very important that all residents in nursing homes and assisted living have a profile all about them that has to be read by all their caretakers and employees of the facility. As a child you can write all about your Dad's interests and where he is from and about his childhood and what he did as an adult {occupation} raising a family, marrying your mom, pictures of anything important to him. example past cars, houses, pets, jobs his parents, siblings children etc. Don't let him be treated just like another "old person" that way when you aren't there people can give him a sense of purpose and relate to him. And when you are there you can do all the wonderful suggestions that people gave you. I am going to do this for my mom. God Bless you and remember every time you go to visit him you a giving him another purpose, a very important one being your Dad! I will say a prayer for you! You are doing great! Best of luck!
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Can you manage some short out-trips? Is there a grounds to stroll around if you can't? Watch the TV with him - come when there is a show you both like. Once, my dad's nursing home even arranged a trail walk with us caregivers and staff pushing their chairs - my dad's was sort of a geri-chair, and not all that easy to push outdoors, but it was a great memory and he enjoyed it. Sometimes we could share regular facility meals with Mom (very minimal charge for that) or we brought in special food, and we'd do some of the little events the facility had together. We used to get my mom out to eat once we'd adapted a vehicle, usually after a dentist visit or something medical. When she was too ill for that, we did manage a stroll up and down the hall just trying looking at art work (she was not crazy about that) and once in the garden at the hospice which she actually did like. I will always be proud that she ate almost a whole piece of the pizza we brought in just the day before she passed on. You can't help being sad about all they have lost, but just trying to get something positive out of it all, however small a victory it really is, helps a little...
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Fantastic suggestions. The worst part of being incarcerated, which is what it feels like is being in a nursing home is the boredom. Everyone appreciates visitors even if they are not able to communicate. Physical contact goes a long way. Just sit and hold his hand and look out the window together or go to an area where there is a view. A visit from a pet is also really helpful if the facility allows it. You will need to prove evidence of current vaccinations etc. If you don't have a suitable dog could you borrow a nice quiet animal and its owner. You will be amazed at how the other residents gather round with a chance to pet it especially if you take along a few treats for them to offer.
As for the frequency of your visits only you can decide what you are comfortable with. Are there other activities that would be more appropriate for your own mental health. Ask Dad how often he would like to see you.
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Sorry that was suppose to be wouldn't do him any wrong. Need to be able to edit on this thing.
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I don't think that there is any right or wrong answer here, it is what you feel is appropriate time, schedual etc. It is very difficult to go visit just like going to the hospital to visit someone who is ill, things are very limited. Sure you can talk about what you have been up to, but then the guilt kicks in as you realize that you are out living your life and here they are. With all good intentions in place to brighten their day just got flooded out with guilt and sadness for that person. You have to keep in mind that you never did this to him or that you would do any wrong to him. Unfortunately he is very limited to his younger ways of life, but you could maybe take him out for some fresh air to uplift his mood. You can talk about things in that particular surrounding or does he like certain music? You could maybe take him in something that he likes and that may help in a discussion as it brings back some memories. If he is able maybe you can take him out to lunch and get him his favorite. Just a couple of ideas not sure if it will help.
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I love Geewiz's response. Taking a walk on the grounds or anywhere - a park, would be great - just to see the outside world. Not sure how mobile or movable he is. You may be able to try some childrens games. There is a memory one with card sets - they use it for therapy - if you play it with few sets, it can be easier. Remember the game of Trouble? Take a walk through a toy store and see if something catches your eye.

It is hard to visit the infirm and it is even more difficult to watch your loved one diminishing in capacity.

You are trying, and it sounds like you are doing a DARN good job of putting your love into action.

God Bless
L
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One more thought, Carol .. .. my all time favorites, can't believe I forgot to mention them~ If someone from church is bringing communion, I am guessing 'dad' is a man of faith. Say some prayers with him. And, bring some CDs/tapes, whatever and play music (and sing along) to songs from his era. The residents and my Mom always loved it when I stated them on songs from the 'old days. (much to the rolling eyes of the aides, by the way! ) And I mean the OLD songs. Carolina in the morning, you are my sunshine, take me out to the ball game, heart of my heart, etc. The funniest part --- I can't carry a tune for beans but most of the others could and they loved singing. It brought the back to their childhood and happy days. Google the lyrics and print out the words for yourself if need be. Enjoy
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Thank you to everyone for all of your suggestions and feedback! I am now glad that I decided to ask for help --- which in my case is hard to do. Perhaps that trait is common with caregivers - we know how to give care but don't know how to receive it.

I plan on printing out this whole page so I can try out everyone's suggestions. It's true that I have never been that close to Dad --- I was closer to my Mom and to be honest, she never ran out of things to say :) She was the one who always communicated and held things together. I am grateful, though, for this opportunity to get to know my Dad better.

Thanks, again, I appreciated each and every comment ... all helpful answers :)
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My mom is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's. I visit 3 days a week then four the next, alternating the 3-4. I spend 4-5 hours each day with her. In my case I think there is a difference. My mom and I have been very close for many years. She, at one time lived with me for 6+ years. She is now in a memory care facility. I am not married nor do I have kids. However, I enjoy being with my mom. I help her shower, change clothes, we work on arts and crafts, her photo album, we sit and talk and she loves to dance to the different music I bring for her. On Saturdays, I take her to lunch and we go to the store to buy some of her favorite foods and place it in her refrigerator in her room. A dorm sized fridge. I put lotion on her arms and legs, fix her hair, and help her with whatever she has difficulties doing. I enjoy the time I have left with my mom. I will be a basket case when she's gone. I have Bipolar and she was ALWAYS been there for me through the deep depressions. Now, I suffer through the deep depressions and anxiety/panic attacks by myself, yet force a happy face on for my mom. I don't feel obligated to visit my mom, to me it's pure enjoyment. It isn't to say that it isn't emotionally stressful on me watching her decline, but I'm there for her. My brother and sister live within miles of her, yet see her once a week. My brother for maybe 45 minutes, but usually less. My sister for 2-3 hours. I live 60 miles round trip, yet see her the most often. My siblings say they don't really know her or what to say. They had their chances to learn. When my mom lived with me and I spoke to my siblings on the phone, they were too busy to want to talk to or help or get to know my mom as she got sick and got older. Their loss is my gain.

I'm not judging anyone!!! I am saying to do what is comfortable for you and to think about if it were you in your loved ones place, what would make you feel more comfortable and happy? (Other than to be where they're living) It may be nothing more than holding their hand or saying is there something I can get for you?

I do a lot of what geewiz said. Except my mom won't do exercises. But I figure if she dances, that's exercising. It is a challenge to think of things to do but there are plenty of people here with great imaginations. Blessings
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Your Idea of the photo album is good. I'm going to use that one next time my mom is in the hospital. Readers Digest and Guideposts (religious and inspirational) both have nice short stories. Bring a tape recorder and ask him to talk about what he remember from his childhood. It's funny that as they got older both my mom and dad recalled things I never remember hearing before. Bring some markers and play a few rounds of pictionary, not a whole game, or just doodle. I also found that my mother, always serious.. into classical music and current events now enjoys a little bit of celebrity gossip. It's nice to think about other people's lives when thinking about your own doesn't bring a lot of joy at the moment.
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Just a thought that came to mind when you suggested someone read to him. I saw some books recently where you can create a scrapbook and narrarate with your own voice. That might be nice for him. Another thought might be to record some poetry or just some kind words interspersed with some of his favorite hymns or songs on an I-player with portable speakers. Maybe the aid would be willing to turn it on for him on the days you're not there and he can hear your famililiar voice.

Maybe you can record some friends or neighbors who would be willing to share some kind memories or well wishes for your dad and you could play together when you are there.

Bless you and it sounds like you are doing all the right things. Remember quantity of time isn't as important as quality time and as our parents age they spend more restful time and don't need or necessarily want constant entertainment.
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geewiz...I loved your answer. It is exactly what I have tried with my husband. Even the "dry skin", "sorting out the closet" taking him out...etc....Nothing works with him. Have fun? .... it is depressing when you see no interest at all in nothing but saying "I love you", or "I want to go home". Like Carol 72156 I limit my visits to 20 minutes.
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Yes, your Dad is different but it is still DAD. You would be amazed at what you can make an activity out of! Previously mentioned cards, yes even go fish when other games are out of the question, or sorting the deck into suits or colors. It all helps to keep the mind active. "Chair exercises" to keep the muscles moving. Lift legs, arms, rotate head and shoulders! It's summer, how about a walk (or wheel ) outside. Looking at flowers, trees, gardens can all be very exciting (and a much needed change of pace). Can you take him for a car ride? I used to take my Mom to an old fashioned ice cream parlor. The whole event was about an hour, but fun for both of us. (Even if the decision making on flavor seemed to take forever LOL)
Bring a magazine for him to peruse, my doctor's office saved up the older ones for me to bring to the facility. Bring a lap top or notebook (large screen) and download photos from a previous vacation you took. It provides lot's of conversation, yes even if the trip was years ago. See if you can skype his friends/relatives that are unable to visit themselves. An entire event in and of itself. Bring a large (light) ball. It can be tossed back and forth and helps eye hand co-ordination as well as exercise in reaching for it. Bring a local newspaper and read together articles of interest. Make your visits fun for both of you. Get him OUT of his room , there must be a 'public' meeting area. As to the frequency of d I dread it. I spent some of the time cleaning up the room, sorting out the clothing and checking that it wasn't ripped, etc. I checked the supplies and replaced soaps and creams. You can say, gee Dad, your skin looks dry, that often happens in the summer. I brought some cream , let me put it on. The power of human touch is awesome! Have fun.
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In my case is not "mom or dad", it is my husband, the handsome, intelligent man I loved and married, and that now, like you, it is very depressing to visit, and also thinking "he does not belong here". In my opinion there are no words that can make you change your guilty feelings. I also feel guilty when in my mind I repeat myself "that's not him", "what happened to my man?" Sometimes I force myself to visit him. That's the way it is for me. Hope it helps.
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Filling time during a visit can be a challenge. Bringing dinner or dessert is a great way to demonstrate you care. You wrote that your dad used to enjoy reading, have you considered reading aloud while you are together? He might not remember the plot but the companionship would be good and it will fill the time with something besides discussions of bowel movements and long pauses. My husband visits his mother daily out of a sense of duty, it is a chore. He is torn between irritation and guilt. Nursing home staff has encouraged him to visit less frequently. He particularly dislikes sitting and doing nothing while he is there. She has always been enjoyed playing games and cards so they spend time playing games/cards that she has played all her life. I don't think she could learn a new game. She also reported to him that no one visits and then we learned she just doesn't remember that visitors have been there.
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It is hard to see our parents decline... and the first time my Mom moved into the NH it was rather depressing to go see her... But I have overcome that feeling after pressing through it and simply wanting to bless my Mom. My Mom has her old room with her favorite pieces from her home - so it seems familiar to us. I hold her hand, talk about this and that, watch TV with her - usually always HGTV, work on my laptop and other. Here is what is helpful to remember: it is the act of being together to ease discomfort of being in a foreign place and providing love and care to my Mom who is declining...

Bless you.
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