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Successful Aging Column

Below is a list of the articles published in the Sun Newspapers by freelance healthcare writer Eileen Beal, MA, who specializes on geriatric issues.

Sun Newspapers
Finding the Right In-Home Care
February 2010

Does your mother have problems bathing or remembering to take her medications? Is your recently widowed uncle having problems taking care of the house? Are you wondering how you’ll manage on your own – taking care of the wound, getting to rehab, cooking – after knee replacement surgery?

For growing numbers of people, the solution to those problems is home care. 

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The Fountain of Youth...Exercise
Oct 2009

No matter what your age, to age successfully you should be exercising. 

“Exercise is the closest thing there is to a fountain of your,” explains Dr. Robert Palmer, former head of Geriatric Medicine at Cleveland Clinic and author of the book Age Well!

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When the Going Gets Tough, Many Boomers Start Small Businesses
August 2009

According to business consulting firm Emergent Research, the current recession has created a small business boom. And, says the firm's annual Small Business Trends Report, Baby Boomers are leading the small business charge.

Many have been thrown unwillingly into early “retirement” by the tanking economy and are looking for the job security that comes with business ownership. Others went the gold-watch or buy-out route, but with better health at retirement, longer life spans, and shrunken retirement resources, they start businesses to generate income and stay productive.

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There Is No Age Limit on HIV/AIDS
May 2009

“The incidence of HIV/AIDS in people 65 and older has increased 10-fold in the last decade,” says nurse practitioner Janet M. Briggs, the HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Hospital.

And, adds Dr. Robert Kalayjian, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at MetroHealth Medical Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at CWRU School of Medicine, “Twelve percent of all newly diagnosed cases [of HIV/AIDS] are over 50.”

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Guardianship: Pros and Cons
February 2009

Family members often understand the need to talk about planning for the future with older loved ones. But many times, these important discussions don't take place until there is a crisis.

“Too often that's when the loved one – for whatever reason – is no longer able to communicate his or her wishes,” cautions Bert Rahl, director of Mental Health Services at the Benjamin Rose Institute.

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Finding Help for Caregivers
November 2008

When you hear the phrase “caregiver,” do you think of a white-clad home care aide? Or do you get a mental picture of yourself grocery shopping for your widowed mother, or taking your never-married uncle to the doctor, or helping the elderly couple next door put up their storm windows for the winter?

Most of us probably “see” the white-clad aide as a caregiver and what we do for older family members and neighbors as “just helping out.” However, when you are “just” helping mom, your uncle and the neighbors with activities of daily living – shopping, getting to doctors' appointments, home maintenance, etc. – that enable them to remain at home and retain their independence, you too are a caregiver.

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Lifelong Learning: A Prescription for Successful Aging
August 2008

Older Americans today are generally healthier, wealthier and better educated than their parents and grandparents and, according to a recently published report,* most are seeking a lifestyle in retirement that provides opportunities for social engagement, physical activity, and mental stimulation. (* A Blueprint for Action , funded by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Partners for Livable Communities, 2007)

And noted the report, they don't want to have to move to an “active adults” or sunbelt community to get the socializing, physical and mental stimulation, and emotional satisfaction they are looking for.

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Aging “creatively” benefits mind, body, spirit
February 2008

When Dr. Gene Cohen, head of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University, spoke about “creative aging” at Cuyahoga Community College last year, he introduced the audience – physicians, nurses, social workers, and art therapists – to a groundbreaking idea.

Everyone, he said, knows the positive benefits sustained exercise – even moderate exercise – has on aging. Few people know about the positive benefits that another kind of sustained exercise – participation in art programs that have participants stretching and flexing their minds and “thinking outside the box” – seems to have on older adults. Nor are they aware of how easy it is to keep things going after they've taken the plunge.

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Poor Sleep Often Goes Unrecognized in Elderly
September 2007

As people age, they often experience sleep disorders: difficulty falling asleep; frequent awakenings during the night; and early-morning awakenings. This usually leads to daytime fatigue, dozing, catnapping and an out-of-sync sleep-cycle “that makes it even harder for them to get the night time sleep they need,” says Bert Rahl, director of mental health services for the Eldercare Services Institute of Benjamin Rose.

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Grandparenting in the 21st Century
May 2007

The birth of your first grandchild – usually somewhere in your late 40s or early 50s – is a life-altering event. The child's birth doesn't just add a new branch to the family tree, it changes the family dynamic and your role in the family: No longer are you just mom or dad, you're nana or papi, too.

Most first-time grandparents don't realize the degree or significance of the changes that come with becoming grandparents

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It's Never Too Late to Improve Your Nutrition
March 2007

Whether you are 6 or 66, food is second only to your genes in determining how long you'll live and how healthy you'll live: Eat poorly, your body and longevity suffer; eat smart, they thrive.

Eating smart means eating defensively.

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Take Steps Now to Prevent Falls
March 2006
If you are worried about an elderly family member or friend falling, you should be. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, one in three people over the age of 65 takes a tumble – usually at home – that sends them to a physician or Emergency Department. In fact, each year, people over the age of 65 make 1.8 million trips to their local Emergency Department because of falls and 420,000 are admitted to the hospital. Of those 420,000, about 300,000 are hospitalized with life-altering hip fractures.

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Surviving the Holidays: Strategies for Caregivers
November 2005
The eight-week stretch between Thanksgiving and New Years is the most stressful time of the year for those caring for elderly relatives or others who can not live on their own.
The stress isn't just due to the holiday activities—shopping for gifts, baking, addressing and sending out holiday cards, organizing transportation for holiday expeditions, etc.—that take up additional time and add additional responsibilities to a caregiver's already packed life. It's also, says Stacey Rokoff, the director of the School for Caregivers at Fairhill Center on Cleveland's near East Side, due to the fact “that holiday time is family time and when family members come together there are a lot of challenges to the caregiver about how they are doing their job;” and to the fact that the weather “is ‘iffy,' and that makes doing everything more difficult;” and to the fact that the “work and family schedules and care routines that enable caregivers to keep all the balls in the air are disrupted during the holidays.”

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Emergency Preparedness Means Medical Preparedness for Seniors
September 2005
Emergency preparedness—whether for a natural disaster, terror strike or power outage—has moved front and center in most American's minds.
For the majority of people, being prepared for an emergency or natural disaster means having a 40-quart plastic storage box sitting out in the garage loaded with: milk jugs full of water; high-energy food; first aid supplies and a first aid manual; blankets or sleeping bags; emergency tools (everything from a manual can opener to a collapsible shovel); copies of insurance and medical cards; and duplicate credit cards, a roll of quarters, and cash in small denomination bills.

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Transportation Options Are Essential When Older Adults Cease Driving
August 2005
Most drivers in their 70s and 80s have been behind the wheel since their early teens, so for them ceasing driving is likely to be a traumatic experience. “It means loss of independence and isolation from friends, family, social activities and important services,” says Jan Bohinc, the former program director at the Cleveland Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
“For some people it can lead to depression and sorrow,” she adds, “so they need to be encouraged and allowed to grieve their loss.”
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The Invisible Epidemic: Senior Substance Abuse
July, 2005
“It's something that doesn't exhibit directly,” explained Carol Rich, director of Cleveland Height's Office on Aging.
When it does “exhibit directly”—a surprise home visit encounters a drunk, disoriented, or seemingly demented parent or loved one—she added, “Families don't want to deal with it.”
The “it” Rich is talking about is substance abuse among the elderly.
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Help For Second-Time-Around Parents
June, 2005
Growing numbers of grandparents (and other kin) are stepping up to the plate to be full-time moms and dads to their grandkids. Fueled by drugs, divorce, the faltering economy, dramatic cuts on funding for social service programs, and rising incidences of incapacitating mental illness, the number of grandparents assuming care of their grandchildren has jumped dramatically—30%—in the last 15 years. “We get about 50 calls a month, with a spike in August and September and around the holidays because that's when callers need more help and resources,” says Maridell Couture, LSW, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Adult and Family Services Grandparent/Kinship Care Program.
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Discover the rewards of lifelong learning
May, 2005
...Lifelong learning programs are offered by so many different organizations and institutions—universities and colleges, vocational schools, senior centers, retirement communities, adult education departments, recreation centers, libraries, art centers, the County Extension Service, etc.—that the scope and variety of classes is mind-boggling. “Some programs are content oriented,” Browne explained, “while others are more holistic, melding the mind-body-spiritual aspects of learning.”
Few people who enroll in a lifelong learning class stop with just one.
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Caregiver best advocate for loved one
April, 2005
All people 65 and over, not just low-income seniors or those with serious physical or mental conditions, are eligible for state and local discounts; federal, state, and community programs; and low- or no-cost medical and social service programs. Most of these freebies and near-freebies don’t just make older adults’ lives better, richer and more rewarding, they help lighten the financial, physical, and emotional stress load for caregivers, too.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that far too many older adults aren’t tapping into the benefits, programs and services they are eligible for.
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The Paper Trail: Getting affairs in order takes the stress off everyone
March, 2005
If an emergency situation strikes, do you know where your mother keeps her durable power of attorney; where your father keeps the military-related records he’d need to be admitted to a Veterans Administration Hospital; where your favorite aunt keeps her will; or where your spouse keeps the key to the safety deposit box at the bank? Or even if they know where the records, documents, and/or key are?.
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Financial abuse of the elderly is a growing problem
February, 2005
The good news is that we are living longer. The bad news is that—as spouses and friends, and even children, die—many elderly people are becoming socially isolated. "[That] brings hazards that can be greater than any disease and one of them is an increased risk for financial abuse," says Carol Dayton. As Chief of Adult Protective Services (APS) for the Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services, Dayton knows whereof she speaks. In a little over a decade she’s seen the number of reports of financial exploitation of the elderly jump from 7% to 15% of all reported cases of elder abuse. But those numbers probably aren’t telling the real story. "Research indicates that only one in five instances comes to the attention of the authorities," she says.
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Aging Successfully: It’s all about attitude
January, 2005
If you think you can or can’t, you’re right. Henry Ford
When it comes to aging successfully, more and more studies—including one done at Ohio University in Athens that tracked 660 older adults from 1975 to 2002—are showing that those who do it best do it with “attitude.” The kind of attitude the studies focus on, however, isn’t in-your-face hipness or cantankerousness (though a University of California/San Francisco study did show that the latter seemed “to be a protective characteristic among the elderly”), it’s a positive, optimistic outlook. That kind of “attitude” doesn’t just shape expectations and responses to situations, explains David M. Bass, Ph.D., director of the Margaret Blenkner Research Institute of the social service agency Benjamin Rose, “it promotes self-esteem, confidence and a willingness to adapt to new situations.”
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The gift of self: Becoming a medical guinea pig brings rewards
December, 2004
...I was nervous about enrolling in the STAR trial—especially after reading the 8-page consent form that began starkly with this statement: You are being asked to take part in this research study because you are at increased risk for developing breast cancer—and committing to taking two pills every day for the next five years of my life. But I knew that becoming a STAR guinea pig—because that’s what signing on to the study turned me into—was going to have a huge pay-off.
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Caregiver tips for surviving the holidaze
November, 2004
The six-week holiday blitz—from Thanksgiving week to New Year’s Day—is a mixed bag for caregivers. Along with holiday cheer and merrymaking come extra demands on caregivers’s time, energy, and pocketbook and an emotional tidalwave that churns up feelings about loses, missed opportunities, and the future. So it’s not surprising that many caregivers don’t just feel financially and physically fatigued during and after the holidays, they feel “blue,” too. “Feeling” blue isn’t “being” depressed, explained Benjamin Rose’s Assistant Director of Research, Carol Whitlatch, Ph.D.
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As flu season approaches, so does time for yearly vaccination
August, 2004
Each year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, over 110,000 people are hospitalized with flu. Almost 40,000 of them die, and 90% of those who do so are over the age of 65.“People don’t realize how serious flu is…especially for the elderly. For them it can be lethal,” explained Mary Jo Slattery, a geriatric nurse practitioner at MetroHealth Medical Center. “People think they have the flu when they have a bad cold,” she added., “If they got the flu, they’d know the difference.” Flu, she explained, is a respiratory illness that strikes fast and unexpectedly. It causes a dry cough and sore throat, a runny nose, fever and chills, body aches, muscle pain, and headaches. It can incapacitate a healthy person for several days and hospitalize someone who isn’t for weeks. Summing up a bad bout of flu in two words, Slattery said: “It’s horrible.”
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More seniors working after retirement
July, 2004
What do Julian Inglefield, a former industrial supply rep, Phyllis Martin, former head of community services for the Cleveland Library System, Don Maraldo, a former customer service representative at National City Bank, and Linda Tirk, former art director at a local newspaper have in common? All are “un-retirees”—folks who retired from full-time jobs and then went back to work. And all are on the cutting edge of a workplace trend that’s reshaping and graying the workforce. Some, like Tirk, are freelancing. Others, like Martin, who returned to school to get a degree in information technology (IT), became consultants. Others, like Inglefield, who worked on Bonne Bell’s production line, and Maraldo, who bounced from bank to bank, worked on an as- and where-needed basis.
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Recognition is the key to treating chronic pain
June, 2004
Pain, per se, isn’t bad for you. It’s a warning sign that something is wrong and needs to be taken care of immediately, explained Dr. Thomas Chelimsky, associate professor of neurology at Case Medical School and Director of Autonomic Disorders at University Hospitals. When you take care of the problem—cut jogging from 5 to 2 miles a day, get the aching tooth filled, stop eating certain foods—the pain usually goes away, he added. However, if pain—from joint stress, a “cured” disease, a medical procedure—lingers for longer than a couple of months, or comes and goes intermittently, or escalates, it’s become chronic pain. Chronic pain is the nation’s leading disabler.
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Elder abuse growing as aging population grows
May, 2004
While it’s always been around, we have only recognized elder abuse as a social, medical and legal issue since the mid-1970s, says Georgia J. Anetzberger, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert on elder abuse. Just because we know it’s there doesn’t mean we can define it, however. When Anetzberger asked a group of nurses, social workers, and other health care professionals attending an elder abuse workshop what it was, their responses were all over the map.
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Is a nutrition supplement right for you?
April, 2004
Whether you are 30, 60, or 90, your vitamin and mineral needs are pretty much the same. You need vitamins—A, the B family, C, D, E, and K, and vitamin-wannabes such as beta carotene, biotin and choline—to help process the carbohydrates, proteins, fats and sugars you eat. You also need them to help keep your body functioning, your mind alert, and your immune system strong and able to protect you from germs and infections.
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Poor oral health leads to poor overall health
March, 2004
Surgeon General Richard Carmona said that the development and progress of many of the body’s diseases is strongly associated with the amount of plaque-causing bacteria a person has in his/her mouth and/or the severity of his or her gum inflammation. Both problems, he said, show links to major health problems that affect seniors, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory pneumonia.
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Maleness can be hazardous to your health
February, 2004
At the Men’s Health Summit held at The Cleveland Clinic last November, Dr. George Tesar, Chairman of The Clinic’s Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, was only half-joking when he opened his presentation by stating that "just being male is a major health hazard."

Studies back him up. Not only are men more apt to put themselves in situations that are hazardous to life and limb, they (the same people who wouldn’t dream of not giving their car a weekly wash, a 3000-mile oil change, a semi-annual tune-up, and a 6,000-mile tire rotation) are also slackers when it comes to dealing with taking care of Number One.
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It’s never too late to ‘pump iron’.
January, 2004
It's a given: as we age (and especially after we pass our 45th birthday)
our muscles begin losing their strength and flexibility-and shrinking and turning to fat-riddled flab. Weaker muscles mean we tend to become less active and less mobile and that, ironically, accelerates the loss of muscle strength and mass, while at the same time worsening the effects of
chronic diseases, such as diabetes, osteoporosis and arthritis.
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New Year's Resolutions for the Rest of Your Life.
December 3, 2003
...I've asked a gaggle of MythBusters--people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s who've been disputing, defying, and debunking the myths of aging since
well before they became "seniors"--to share things they'd put on a New Year's resolution list aimed at aging successfully.
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Finding resources is key to success for grandparents raising grandchildren.
November 20, 2003
The 2000 census takers asked Americans who was taking care of the nation's children, and the answer they sent back to Washington was a shocker. "The census showed that one in 12 kids in the US was being
raised in the household of a relative other than a parent,"
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What does it mean to age successfully?
October 16, 2003
Ten years of research led Rowe and Kahn to the conclusion that to age successfully we must get the best medical care possible, stay physically
and mentally active, and stay engaged with life:  through life-long learning, continued interactions with family and friends, volunteer work, etc.
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Benefits CheckUp benefits seniors and those who care for them.
September 18, 2003
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Communication Key to Good Health Care.
August 21, 2003
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Add volunteering to your pre-retirement planning agenda.
July 17, 2003
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Wedding Bells--Not!
June 19, 2003
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When you look in the mirror, do you see a caregiver?
May 15, 2003
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Alternative Medicine's not so alternative anymore.
April 17, 2003
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Planning early for hospital discharge promotes optimal recovery.
March 20, 2003
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Keeping an eye on the future.
February 21, 2003
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Plan Now for Future Medical Decisions.
January 16, 2003
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Keeping active, stimulated, and connected keeps isolation at bay.
December 19, 2002
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Tips and Tricks for Staying Up During the Holidays.
November 21, 2002
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Housing Options for Seniors.
October 17, 2002
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Senior years time for sharing, giving back, and volunteering.
September 19, 2002
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Old Before My Time.
August 15, 2002
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Older Drivers Examining Their Options.
July 18, 2002
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"Grandtripping:" Traveling with the grandkids is a growing trend.
June 20, 2002
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Psychological problems in seniors are treatable.
May 16, 2002
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Taking care of caregivers.
April 18, 2002
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Downsizing: Helping Loved Ones Make a Late-life Move.
March 21, 2002
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Sex and the Single Senior: Intimacy and emotional satisfaction after 60.
February 21, 2002
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It's never too late to get physical: Using exercise to promote and
maintaining health.

January 17, 2002
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Elder depression is real, and very treatable.
December 20, 2001
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Internet sites offer caregivers a heping hand.
November 15, 2001
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Education program demolishing aging myths.
October 18, 2001
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Retirees are going back to work in record numbers ... employers
are ecstatic!

September 21, 2001
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School bells are ringing-again-for seniors.
August 16, 2001
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New Family Caregiver Support Program promises help for caregivers.
July 19, 2001
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The Invisible Epidemic: Senior Substance Abuse.
June 21, 2001
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Day Care Use for Older Adults Growing.
May 24, 2001
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Aging in place: A house is just a tool for living.
April 26, 2001
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