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Author Archives: Care Haven Homes

5 Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

Safety tips for SeniorsWe’ve enjoyed a week of mild temperatures. The forecast says we’re in for a few more.

Don’t let down your guard. Follow these winter safety tips for seniors, whether the weather is bitter or mild.

Winter Safety Tip #1: Indoors & Out, Dress in Layers

Guard against hypothermia, even when it’s unseasonably mild. Many seniors experience changes to their sensory and circulatory systems. They don’t realize they’re chilled. If Mom lives with Alzheimer’s, she may not be able to tell you she’s uncomfortable.

If you plan an outing when the wind chill is below 70o F, have Mom wear a jacket. Layer it over a sweater and blouse or T-shirt. All layers should be loose fitting, trapping pockets of warm air between them. (Tight clothing cuts down on blood circulation, which leads to loss of body heat.)

If the wind chill is below 60o F, swap that jacket for a heavier coat, hat and gloves. And don’t forget the layers!

Strangely enough, Mom is at risk for hypothermia even when she’s indoors. She’s at serious risk if she has diabetes, arthritis, thyroid problems or Parkinson’s. Be vigilant if Mom or her residential facility keeps the temperature low to save energy. NEVER set the thermostat below 68oF. 1

If the house is cool, have Mom wear socks, slippers and a sweater. See that she throws on a blanket while sitting or sleeping.

The National Institute on Aging warns,

“Look for the ‘umbles’—stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles—these show that the cold is a problem.”2

Act quickly if you spot

  • confusion,
  • slurred speech,
  • changes in behavior or appearance,
  • slowed breathing or reaction time,
  • poor movement control or stiffness,
  • weak pulse or
  • unusual sleepiness.

It’s time to call 911, especially if Mom’s body temperature won’t rise above 96o. Wrap her up so she’s warm and dry while you wait for help.

Winter Safety Tip #2: Stay Safe While Staying Warm

photo-dec-23You’ve heard about the fire and carbon monoxide risks associated with space heaters. What about the dangers of heating pads and electric blankets? Warm baths and hot water bottles?

As we age, many of us suffer illnesses or injuries that irritate, compress or damage our nerves. Parts of our bodies grow numb. Uncontrolled diabetes is one of the chief culprits. Excess blood sugar builds up, damaging the walls of small blood vessels that feed nerve cells. “Left untreated, it’s possible to lose all feeling in affected limbs.”3

Is Dad using an electric pad or warm bath for heat therapy – or to fight a chill? Use caution, testing as you would to protect a baby’s sensitive skin. Dad may not feel the water or pad burning his skin. If he does, he may not be able to find the words to let you know.

Want a warmer bed for Dad? Try a strategy used by many hospitals. Warm sheets and blankets with your heating devices – BEFORE you drape them over Dad. (Then put the device away, out of sight, so he isn’t tempted to warm up on his own later.)

Winter Safety Tip #3: Mend the Cracks in Your Armor

Mom washes her hands to avoid seasonal colds and flu. The more she washes, the drier her skin. It grows dryer in the winter air, especially once the furnace is on. By January, Mom’s face, hands and feet are cracked and peeling. (Especially her hands – where the skin is thinner and has fewer oil glands.)4

Avoid painful chapping and bleeding. Help Mom moisturize early and often – before you’re treating serious fissures or eczema. Switch from light summer lotions to thicker, richer formulas.5 Apply at least 5 or 6 times a day, especially after washing.

Water is not dry skin’s friend, especially hot water. Neither are harsh soaps and shampoos. Skip the long, hot showers or baths. Use warm water and gentle soaps, then gently pat dry.

Other tips? When outside, keep Mom’s hands covered against the cold and wet. When inside, consider using a humidifier to combat chapped hands and lips as well as a stuffy nose. (But only if you can keep it free of mold and bacteria!)

Winter Safety Tip #4: The Rest of You Needs Hydrating, Too!

Drinking more water may not hydrate your skin. But it will keep the rest of you healthier.

Running errands, it’s easy to forget that Dad needs water on a cold, dry day. In winter, we’re less likely to keep fluids on hand. Keep bottled water in your emergency supplies.

Dad is more likely to lose track of his need for water than you are.6 His aging body struggles to conserve it. Medications or medical conditions (like diabetes) may increase his need for fluids. At the same time, he may not feel the intense thirst that once signaled dehydration. If Dad is coping with Alzheimer’s, he might forget to eat or drink unless you remind him.

If Dad seems dizzy or lightheaded – if he becomes irritable or confused – he could be getting dehydrated. Take a break. Stop for a light snack and frequent drinks of water. Call 911 if

  • his confusion worsens,
  • he can’t keep fluids down,
  • he shows signs of low blood pressure, quickened breathing or rapid heartbeat or
  • he suddenly becomes unusually fatigued or unresponsive.

Winter Safety Tip #5: Watch Out for Slips & Spills

When it sleets and snows, we’re on high alert against potential falls. We keep Mom inside until bad weather passes. When we venture out with her, we avoid slippery stairs or ramps, patches of black ice and pools of melted water.

But as soon as it’s sunny, we let down our guard.

Unfortunately, bitter winter weather leaves plenty of hazards in its wake. Mom can slip on the snowmelt and sand meant to prevent icy spills. She can trip on upturned edges of mats and rugs thrown down to cover slick, wet tiles.

Always focus on Mom’s footing.

  • Be certain she’s wearing sensible, well-fitted shoes.
  • See that she’s always on dry, solid ground.
  • When she gets out of a car, ask her to swing both legs around and place both feet flat on the pavement. Tell her to hold you and/or the doorframe for support as she stands.
  • Make sure she steps out of a doorway or off a curb heel first, over her center of gravity. Don’t let her step too far forward, where she’s less stable.
  • Encourage Mom to walk like a penguin on your outings: flatfooted, with short steps.


1Hypothermia: A Cold Weather Hazard.” National Institute on Aging. Web 19 January 2015.

2 Ibid.

3 Castro, M. Regina, MD. “Why are electric blankets discouraged for people who have diabetes? What’s the danger?” Mayo Clinic. Web 19 January 2015.

4 Davis, Susan. “10 Winter Skin Care Tips.” WebMD. Web 19 January 2015.

5 Levitt, Shelly. “Prevent and Soothe Chapped Winter Hands.” WebMD. Web 19 January 2015.

6 Mayo Clinic Staff. “Diseases & Conditions: Dehydration.” Mayo Clinic. Web January 20, 2015.




Care Haven Homes Buys Sunflower House

Kansas City’s Residential Alzheimer’s Care Home Pioneer Adds 5th House

Sunflower HouseCare Haven Homes has great news. We’ve purchased Sunflower House, an Alzheimer’s care residence, from A New Day at Home, LLC.

Sunflower House will be our 5th memory care home – our 2nd in Leawood. Like other Care Haven homes, Sunflower House is a ranch-style residence. It’s specially designed to provide better Alzheimer’s care in a family-style setting.

Sunflower House is located near 92nd and Lee Boulevard.

Answers to Your Top 5 Questions

  1. Why did A New Day sell Sunflower House to Care Haven Homes?

For 17 years, A New Day has delivered professional in-home assistance to Alzheimer’s caregivers. It opened Sunflower House a year ago. It hoped to continue serving memory care clients when their need for safe, round-the-clock care required a move out of the family home.

“Operating an Alzheimer’s care residence is very different from delivering professional in-home care services,” according to Norman Grant, A New Day’s Managing Director. “We’re returning to what we do best.

“But we’re keeping our promise to provide better Alzheimer’s care to our residents, too – care based on the best research and practices. We approached Care Haven because of its reputation for doing just that.”

  1. Did the purchase affect Sunflower House’s licensing?

Like the rest of our Care Haven Homes, Sunflower House is licensed by the State of Kansas to operate as a “Home Plus.” A Home Plus cares for up to 12 residents who require help managing all areas of their everyday lives.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services approved Care Haven’s application to operate Sunflower House.

  1. How will the purchase affect Sunflower House?

Like our other Care Haven homes, Sunflower House stresses best practices. Its caregivers provide person-centered Alzheimer’s care in an environment that looks and feels like a real home.

Sunflower operates at the same high caregiver staffing level as our other Care Haven homes. Its nurses and caregivers demonstrate the same commitment to compassionate, personalized assistance. We look forward to working side-by-side with them, providing better Alzheimer’s care to more of our neighbors.

  1. How will the purchase affect Care Haven Homes?

We are the leading, most experienced local operator of residential Alzheimer’s care homes in Johnson County.

But we plan to continue our small ways.

  • Each Care Haven home provides a family-style setting, typically for 8 residents,
  • Each home operates with high caregiver staffing levels to provide dignified, individualized care.
  • All our homes are clustered together in Leawood and Overland Park. Senior managers easily make daily rounds and emergency visits to each.
  • Our family-owned business is headquartered in nearby Prairie Village – convenient for hands-on oversight of each home.
  1. Why grow?

Unfortunately, the need for Alzheimer’s care is growing.

  • As a person ages, he or she is more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Increasing numbers of Americans (and Kansans) are aged 65 and older.1,2
  • In 10 years, the number of Kansas seniors living with Alzheimer’s is projected to increase 24%, to 62,000.3
  • An increasing proportion of people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are advancing from the mild stage into moderate or severe stages.4 (Again due to increased age and life expectancy.)

More and more families are forced to seek better Alzheimer’s care outside their own homes.

[su_note note_color=”#e8f6fc” class=”standout”] I entered the residential Alzheimer’s care home field nearly 10 years ago. I was intrigued by the possibility that this approach could significantly improve the lives of people with dementia.

A decade later, we’ve traveled from possibility to proof. Person-centered care in an intimate, family-style setting is today’s industry gold standard.5 We’re proud to be in the position to offer better Alzheimer’s care to more of our neighbors.

# # #

I hope I’ve answered all your questions and concerns about our purchase of Sunflower House. If you need additional information, please contact me, Neil Barnett, at (913) 643-0111 or [/su_note]


“2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.” Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia. Chicago: Alzheimer’s Association, 2014. 19. 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

“Kansas Alzheimer’s Statistics.” Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia. Chicago: Alzheimer’s Association, 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

3 Ibid.

Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer’s Disease – A National Imperative. Chicago: Alzheimer’s Association, 2010. 9. 2010. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

“What Is Changing?” Pioneer Network. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

When Coping With Alzheimer’s, Celebrate BIG in Small Spaces

10 Tips for Holiday Decorating That’s Festive, NOT Overwhelming

Getting ready to celebrate the first holiday since Mom moved out of her house? What can you do with overflowing boxes of decorations now stored in your basement?

(Hint: You have everything you need to decorate Mom’s new home. Just pick and choose wisely. We’ve got a new Pinterest board to inspire you.)

1. Start with just one special thing

The best designers begin decorating small spaces by selecting a focal point.

Is Mom proud of the flair she had for trimming a tree? Honor that. Decorate a beautiful miniature tree. Display a strand of twinkling lights or gleaming garland. Create a small display of shiny ornaments.

If Mom loved baking, tie cinnamon sticks, gingerbread men or cookie cutters to a wreath.

Trigger her memories with the sights and sounds of the season. Remember: Someone coping with Alzheimer’s appreciates their sensory experiences in small doses. Avoid the busy and the blaring. Let them concentrate on one thing at a time.

2. Focus on memories, not decorations

If you could relive any holiday memory with Mom, which would you choose?

  • Did she teach you how to glide across an icy pond or build the perfect snowman? Feature mittens or skates in your holiday décor.
  • Did you enjoy caroling together? Play a CD or iPod loaded with seasonal music when you visit.
  • Don’t forget to find space for framed pictures that capture your special moments together.
  • Leave a note for caregivers to explain especially important memories. Attach labels to the backs of pictures so they can guide a conversation about the people and places in them.

3. Build to scale

When decorating small spaces, go for a big impact – without crowding. For example, don’t smother the windows and walls of a cozy room with garlands.

  • Surround the frame of a round dresser mirror with artificial greenery, to form a wreath. Leave the center open for a clear view. OR
  • Highlight a single beaded garland. Drape it, shimmering, over a rod in the window – out of the way of moving curtains and shades.

4. Display heirlooms a new way

image-1Mom’s treasures might include an assortment of holiday photos, ornaments or cross-stitched handkerchiefs. Create a wall display of the best, arranged in the shape of a wreath or tree.

Was her pride & joy a collection of Santas, nutcrackers or holiday houses? Put out one or two. Take pictures of the rest for a brag book she can share.

5. Find a new favorite

If Mom’s holiday favorites are delicate or oversized, it’s time to make a substitution. To replace a fragile Nativity, try

  • Buying a small set made of composite material, built to withstand rough handling, OR
  • Exploring stores that feature unique yet inexpensive crafts from around the world.

Look for an intriguing, compact crèche. It might become Mom’s new bedside treasure.

6. Keep it user-friendly

When decorating small spaces, it’s tempting to display holiday greetings with ribbons or clips. Be careful.

Your clever display might frustrate Mom’s attempts to sort and study cards and photos. Keep them in a special basket instead.

Add photos of families, friends and holidays past (scanned copies of valuable originals).

Exploring the basket could become a favorite winter pastime. If it does, be sure to add new pictures from time to time.

7. Make it easy to maintain

Caregivers have a lot to do, keeping Mom warm, healthy, safe and calm during the holidays. Don’t distract them from her care by asking them to maintain your decorations. More importantly, don’t create tripping, fire and other safety hazards.

  • Choose small, artificial trees that don’t tip, shed or need water.
  • Use shatterproof ornaments.
  • Select lights that are cool to the touch (and turn on with the simple flip of a switch).
  • Avoid open flame; opt for battery-operated candles.
  • Don’t expect Mom to use special seasonal linens or appear in holiday outfits every time you visit.

8. Less is more

Mom has lots of ornaments, but only a few are truly special. Highlight three of them atop candlesticks on a table.

Mom once loved holiday lights, but now she’s disturbed by large, flashing displays. Hang a small marquee in the shape of an angel or other holiday design on her wall, and turn it off if it bothers her.

9. Create more memorable moments

Decorating small spaces offers a huge opportunity to work together. Side by side, you can create a blizzard of snowflakes for the window. Make an advent countdown chain for the wall, or an army of gingerbread men to march around a wreath.

Keep plans simple. You’re enjoying the company of someone coping with Alzheimer’s – not attempting to create an award-winning design.

10. Respect others’ traditions

Ask permission before decorating the common spaces of Mom’s new home. As you choose decorations, be sensitive to other residents’ tastes and traditions. If you place an advent candle on the mantle, leave room for a menorah or kinara. Use colors shared by many different faith traditions: silver, gold, white, blue.

Everyone can celebrate a winter season filled with snowflakes, snowmen, candles, cookies and stars. Those decorations can last till Valentine’s Day!

Visit Us on Pinterest

Care Haven Homes is on Pinterest this holiday season.
We display pictures of the season’s best ideas for decorating small spaces.
Look there for your inspiration!


Leaving on a Jet Plane – Should You Travel With Alzheimer’s?

Picture of Airport Sign

Some of our residents’ families want to bring Mom or Dad home for the holidays.

We want to recreate “happy golden days of yore,”1 as the carols say. We don’t want to leave anyone out, especially the senior members of our clan.

We always recommend starting with a trial run: a well-planned afternoon outing. (See our 5 Secrets to Coping With Alzheimer’s at Your Holiday Dinner.)

If that turns out well, you may dream of extended travel. A long stay requires more than following 5 simple tips. You’ll have to commit to thorough preparation – and perhaps a little soul-searching.

Your dream started with a nostalgic carol. We suggest a few different songs to guide your planning.

Travel Tune #1

db-316-winter-029-4276-copyOver the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.2

OR: The Horse Won’t Know the Way. Do You?

You’ll be the tour director on this excursion – in charge of even the smallest details. Plot each twist and turn along the way. Prepare a backup plan for every step.

  • Will someone drive you to the airport? If not, how will you park the car? Will Dad get upset at the crowded check-in counter? Is he strong enough to ride up escalators and down long walkways? How will you carry the luggage? Does your airline offer special help?
  • Have you prepared Dad for security procedures he may find threatening? Will they catch him off guard or off balance? Think about whether he’ll be willing to remove his shoes and part with a watch or duffel bag. Stand with arms raised in a full body scanner or be “frisked” by an electronic wand.
  • Are you eligible for priority boarding? Help to your seats? Will the airline guarantee to seat you and Dad together on every flight? Are your seats close to a bathroom?
  • People coping with Alzheimer’s often are sensitive to noise, temperature and other sensations. Can Dad muffle the roar of takeoff by listening to an iPod loaded with his favorite music? Will sipping water before and during takeoff ease ear pain? Does his doctor have a better suggestion? Can Dad shrug off a chill with his favorite sweater or a blanket?
  • Have you checked on food and beverage service? Are the offerings appropriate for Dad? Do you need to make other arrangements?
  • Are you prepared for the inevitable overbooking, delay or cancellation? How will you keep yourself and Dad calm when all around you are losing their cool? Is your carry on bag packed with emergency refreshments? Can you find peace and quiet in an airport lounge?
  • How will you handle Dad’s toileting needs? Are you ready to change continence garments in cramped stalls or airplane restrooms? Who will sit with Dad while you use the bathroom?
  • People coping with Alzheimer’s are easily confused under the best of circumstances. Hectic crowds are especially disorienting – and often frightening. Can you offer gentle reassurance all along the way? Where can you find a safe space for Dad to relax?

Travel Tune #2:Orange toiletry bag

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.3

OR: How Helpful is YOUR Carry-On?

Yes, your hands will be full as you guide Dad through crowds in the concourse.

But avoid the temptation to check your bulging carry-on.

You need to prepare for delays, missed connections or lost baggage. Once you reach your destination, you can relax and help Dad settle in rather than dash out for supplies. Keep on hand

  • Anything Dad will need during the first 72 hours of your trip, and
  • Anything he’ll need during the trip that you can’t buy after arrival.

At a minimum, your carry on should include

  • ALL medication.
  • 2 days’ supply of toiletries.
  • 2 changes of clothing, including continence supplies. (Consider more if you’re concerned about spills or accidents.)
  • A favorite sweater or blanket.
  • Water and snacks.
  • Something calming to pass the time, e.g. a small album or book filled with photos, a favorite magazine.

Travel Tune #3:

20160706_134929I get by with a little help from my friends . . .
I’m going to try with a little help from my friends.4

OR: Have You Asked for Help?

Professional caregivers guide Dad through his daily routine. They work together to prepare nutritious meals he can – and wants to – eat. They oversee bathing & dressing. They give medications and tend to skin tears or bruising. They check and change incontinence garments. They guard against tripping hazards.

It’s a big job even when handled by a team. Professional caregivers work in shifts, relieving each other so they can rest and recharge.

Who will stand in for this team during Dad’s visit? How many family members can you rely on to take turns at personal care? Are they knowledgeable and strong enough to handle the job? Have you considered hiring professional in-home caregivers during Dad’s visit?

In case of an emergency, who will stand in for his regular doctor? Where are the nearest medical facilities? Is Dad’s doctor available to consult by phone?

Have you planned your own respite care? Traveling at the side of someone coping with Alzheimer’s can be exhausting. Pace yourself. Be certain you’re well rested before the return trip.

Most importantly, be sure you’re able to share unhurried moments with Dad. You’ve worked hard to bring him home. Now relax and enjoy one another’s company.

Travel Tune #4:xmas-sun-7

He’s leaving
On that midnight train to Georgia,
Said he’s going back
To a simpler place and time.5

OR: Will LA Prove Too Much for the Man?

After careful planning, you may decide that extended travel and a long stay are too much for you to handle. To be honest, they may be more than Dad can handle, too.

You’d like to take Dad home, but he probably won’t feel AT home there. Your home is not his home.

People coping with Alzheimer’s are easily confused and disoriented. Few of them like high adventure. They feel more comfortable and secure following regular routines in familiar surroundings. Most prefer simple pastimes and the company of people who love and care about them.

What does Dad most enjoy about the holidays? Share that with him. Did he spend long hours on a ladder every December, clipping wires to the gutters? Treat him to a tour of area light displays. Whisk him off just after dinner, and return him home in time for his bedtime ritual.

If he loved your mother’s baking, bring him a batch of favorite cookies. Better yet, bring undecorated cookies, and let him help with the icing and sprinkles.

If music was his passion, find a simple concert he might enjoy. A grandchild’s Christmas pageant – a community concert – carolers at the mall. (Plan for an early exit in case he grows tired or restless before the finale.)

Favorite holiday movies loaded on the DVD are a real treat – if you stay to enjoy his favorite scenes.

You don’t have to bring Dad home for the holidays. You can bring him a holiday you’ll both treasure. Don’t worry about recreating past celebrations. Meet Dad in his present. Create new memories in this moment.

Song Sources:

Title: Denver, John. Leaving on a Jet Plane. Cherry Lane Publishing Company. 1967.

1 Blane, Ralph and Martin, Hugh. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 1943. Emi Feist Catalog, Inc. 1944.

2 Child, Lydia Maria. Over the River and Through the Woods (A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day). Women’s History. Jone Johnson Lewis, editor. (December 3, 2014)

3 Bill Withers. Lean on Me. Interior Music Incorporated USA. 1972

4 Lennon, John and McCartney, Paul. With a Little Help from my Friends. Northern Songs. 1967.

5 Weatherly, Jim. Midnight Train to Georgia. Universal-PolyGram International Publishing, Inc. 1971.

Top 5 List: What You Should Know About the Man at the Finish

87 year old participates in KC Alzheimers walkThis is Bill, a Care Haven resident, ready to join our team for the 2013 KC Metro Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

At 87, he started the day as our oldest team member. He finished it as our inspiration – the one who literally took a stand against this devastating disease.

Here’s what you should know about Bill:

5. He’s proud to serve.

Bill enlisted in the Merchant Marines on December 7, 1943 – exactly two years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was just 17 years old and not quite through with high school. He heard duty calling, and he signed up as soon as he was eligible to serve.

4. He’s a hard worker.

Bill finished high school after he returned from war. After graduation, he embarked on a 37-year career with the Post Office. For 20 of those years he also worked a second job – so he could provide for his 8 children.

3. He’s a dedicated family man.

“Provide” included supporting his children’s education. Each is a college graduate. Bill hopes his 16 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren will be, too.

2. He knows how to meet a challenge.

Bill has biked across the State of Missouri three times as a participant in the MS 150. He also trained for and ran a marathon while in his 60’s.

1. He’s not afraid to take a stand!

10:00 am, Sunday, October 6, 2013. The sun shone brightly – but not brightly enough to warm the crisp morning air. Bill – bundled in gloves, hoodie, plaid parka, gloves and signature “God Bless America” cap – joined our Care Haven team of 19 people and 2 dogs at the starting line.

It may have been the KC Metro WALK to End Alzheimer’s, but we didn’t expect Bill to hike the 3-mile course. His daughter, Jane, had volunteered to push his wheelchair all the way to the finish.

But Bill is used to crossing finish lines on his own. As Jane neared the end of the route, Bill signaled her to stop. With the help of Care Haven caregivers Deonisia & Jeannine, and to the cheers of the crowd, Bill rose from his chair to finish the walk on his own two feet.

Suddenly the money we raised didn’t matter as much as the indomitable spirit of this proud man. All who watched grew misty-eyed. Bill literally was taking a stand against the devastating disease that had struck so many of his friends and fellow residents.

[su_note note_color=”#f8c243″ class=”standout”]Take a Stand – Support Our Team!

On October 5, we’ll again be walking to end Alzheimer’s.

Bill hasn’t decided how he’ll participate this year – but we’ve put his picture on our Official Team Page for inspiration. Check it out – and leave a few words of encouragement as we join the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimer’s disease.

If you’re able, please donate on behalf of our team, too. Together, we’ll advance research to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s – and provide support for over 5 millions Americans living with this disease – and the 15.5 friends and family members who care for them.


Bill 87- meets the challenge and crosses the finishline in the Alzheimer's walk KC

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