A Special Supplement of the Spinal Column Newsweekly
SPINAL COLUMN NEWSWEEKLY
SEPTEMBER 12-18, 2012
The importance of 'me time' Stepping away from caretaking to give yourself some TLC
ven if you have help from your children, a visiting nurse or livein care for your ailing spouse or adult child, being a caregiver takes a toll on your physical, emotional and spiritual health. When acute health issues occur, you must snap into action, running on adrenaline, perhaps terrified and panicked. And even when vitals are just fine, you're still marinating in stress and fear, waiting for "the other shoe to drop." Unless you take carefully planned steps for your own well-being, you'll be in a constant state of stress — which isn't good for you. According to Paula Spencer Scott, senior editor at the caregiver information website Caring.com, "the sick person may stabilize, but the caregiver's own health worsens. Or both decline and end up needing care. Sometimes the care recipient even outlives the caregiver." According to "Stress in America," an annual report of the American Psychological Association, caregivers are more likely than the general public to have a chronic illness (82 percent vs. 61 percent). Adding to your risk factors for illness and burnout is the fact that you may have pre-existing health problems of your own, such as high blood pressure or risk factors for diabetes, arthritis and other conditions. When the burdens and fears of caregiving fall upon you now, in midlife, your risk factors escalate for heart disease, high blood pressure, new risks of diabetes, stroke, depression (40 to 70 percent of caretakers report experiencing depression), compromised immune system, weight gain and the resulting joint pain and blood pressure risks, sleep deprivation, back pain from lifting the patient, and unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking alcohol or smoking. Some caregivers also experience financial problems when they turn to addictive shopping to help make themselves feel better. In short, you must make your own health and well-being a high priority. Here are some of the most effective, physician-recommended ways to give
Experts recommend that caregivers take some time away from their caregiving role to pamper themselves and look out for their own health and wellbeing.
yourself some TLC, and it starts with stepping away from your caregiver role. That can be the hardest part. You may feel that stepping away, going out for a massage, or having fun means you're not doing your caretaking job well. But the better you care for yourself, and boost your own health, the better you can do your caretaking job. You will have more to offer. • Ask for expert help. Your physician or hospital can connect you with a trained nurse or personal care assistant who comes into your home to take over caretaker duties while you tend to your exercise routine, run errands or visit with friends. Insurance companies often refer participating eldercare day programs where your spouse can go, and some specialize in dementia care. The center, or insurance company, may even provide free shuttle transportation for your spouse or patient. Caregivers often become close, trusted friends, and they're also
watching out for you, as well. Hire from a trusted, recommended agency, never out of the phone book, since this person will be in your home unattended, and your loved one may need special care that a trained professional will provide. • Make a plan with other family members. It's quite common for caregivers to experience resentments over other relatives not offering to help. But in some instances, they may think "you can handle it." Often, they're just waiting for you to ask. Do ask ... for anything from help with errands to help with pets, removing those extra tasks from you. • See what you can get delivered. Check out low-fee grocery delivery services, such as Peapod at Stop 'n Shop, or laundry delivery. • Make time to exercise. Work your muscles and your heart with simple morning, afternoon or evening walks; use hand weights; or play doctor-
approved workout DVDs. If you have a gym membership, use it while your inhome care expert is there. Exercise boosts many healthy hormones that give you more energy, help protect you from depression and heart disease, and just make you feel better. • Be social. Make lunch dates with friends, but use that time smartly. Don't complain about caregiving the whole time. Mix in uplifting topics, as well. Importantly, spend time with uplifting friends, not those who are miserable and expect you to tend to their emotional needs now. Make it a "no negativity lunch" for the best benefits. • Ask your employer for assistance. Some companies offer leave, flex time, even free fitness club memberships to help you cope. • Make and keep your own doctor's appointments. Self-care depends on good health monitoring, taking your medications, getting flu shots and experiencing the relief that all of your bloodwork is just fine. • Sleep well. Edward Creagan, oncologist at the Mayo Clinic, says: "As simple as it sounds, a good night's sleep empowers and energizes us to tame the demons threatening our well-being. I'm not proposing that a good night's sleep is the panacea for life's miseries. But from my own experience ... I've learned that compromising on sleep can compromise our thought process and judgments." • Get emotional support. See a therapist, or speak to a physician or hospital about online caregiver forums where you can vent when needed. An objective third party will serve you better than an equally stressed adult child or other relative in the mix with you. • Eat well. Don't order fast foods because it's easier. Plan and make healthy meals and snacks, and drink healthy, non-sugary drinks to give you more nutrients and energy. • Breathe. Learn to meditate and de-stress. Hospitals often offer free caregiver meditation classes and DVDs to help you relax. ❏ — Creators Syndicate
SPINAL COLUMN NEWSWEEKLY
SEPTEMBER 12-18, 2012
Latest trends in senior travel Abroad or near home, retirees are expanding their horizons
hile celebrities are shown frolicking on tropical beaches, the real vacation trendsetters are seniors. They're more interested than ever in exploring the globe, trying new resorts and adventurous getaways, visiting eco-friendly bed-andbreakfasts and timing their vacations to coincide with festivals and other special events in a locale. This past April, during the week of the Antigua Regatta, large numbers of yacht enthusiasts who were 50 or older descended upon Antigua and the private island resort Jumby Bay, traveling as couples and as groups of friends. Seniors are not only traveling for enjoyment but also scouting locations for future family getaways. "At Jumby Bay, we have many seniors who travel to the island for couple time, then return with their entire family for a multi-generational trip," says MaryAnne DeMatteo, sales manager for the Rosewood Resort Jumby Bay. The concept of the multi-generational vacation, otherwise known as a family reunion, is becoming a big trend at hotels and resorts, with many establishing special discounts and perks for family vacations. At Caneel Bay, an award-winning resort on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John, the Greatest Generation package gives grandparents their room for free with the booking of three rooms for the rest of the family. Seniors are willing to spend more on their vacations. According to a recent Trip Advisor survey, 80 percent of U.S. travelers who participated in the survey say that they will spend the same, if not more, on leisure travel in 2012 than they did in 2011. What Seniors Want in a Travel Destination Here are the most alluring elements of travel packages for seniors right now: • Fine dining. Resorts with more than one restaurant are their choice, and they read travel review boards, web sites and magazines voraciously
• Fabulous shows and entertainment. According to Trip Advisor, two of the top three U.S. destinations for 2012 are New York City and Las Vegas, both hotspots for concerts, Broadway shows and thrilling theater performances. "I surprised my wife with tickets to a Broadway show when we arrived in New York City," says retiree James Gaitano. "She said it was the highlight of our trip." • Sporting activities. Seniors often put the younger generations to shame with their skills on the tennis courts, and they also consider it a life's goal to play a round on a famous golf course. Some resorts will arrange for access to private golf courses on the PGA tour, which turns a vacation into a dream come true. • Vacation home rentals. Some seniors would rather have a home, and its pool and private beach, all to themselves, rather than deal with crowds and noise at a hotel. So there is now an upsurge in vacation rentals among seniors. Having your own kitchen could mean prepping some of your own meals at great savings, and seniors might rent a beach home in a Many seniors are taking exotic vacations filled with adventure, family and town where their friends own or rent friends, while others opt for something more private and closer to home. homes, as well. So it becomes a group others, will shuttle guests via private vacation while still allowing the senior to find out where the most gourmet carts anywhere they'd like to go, dining is on a particular island or city. couple to enjoy the privacy of their even just a few dozen yards away. They're looking for local cuisine mixed own place — and likely better sleep, Resorts with a shuttle bus loop are with healthy food, keeping with their as well. also popular for seniors who never dietary guidelines. • Nearby luxury resorts. "Seniors need to wait more than a few min• Luxe accommodations. Seniors may be looking for a brag-worthy utes for the next ride to the restaulove to find resorts that have underexperience, but on their own terms — rant over the hill. gone renovations on their suites, as they don't want a hassle. They're the • Adventure. Safaris have become well as luxury villas and even estate original staycationers, opting for luxuvery popular among seniors who may houses on property for an indulgent rious accommodations close to home have spent decades going on the same so they feel farther away than they stay, with the comforts of air conditypes of vacations with their kids, and actually are," says Josey Miller, a travel tioning, chic decor, and especially a now want to expand their horizons to and lifestyle writer. spectacular bed. other continents. • Easy access. "As a plus for senCutting out the burdens of airline • All-inclusives. Seniors want to iors, our guests do not have to drive travel, limiting money spent on gas feel as if they're getting more for their and avoiding the hassles of customs in to get to and from the beach or money, so when a resort, tour or restaurants," says DeMatteo. "I know a international travel allow them to get cruise is all-inclusive, they don't have lot of our senior guests feel uncomto their vacation more quickly, adjust to concern themselves with what each to being on vacation and not lose fortable in an unfamiliar setting, havmenu item costs, nor do they have to entire days to travel. A staycation ing to rent a car or take taxis. There's stay out of the minibar. They can, none of this on Jumby Bay." could be the perfect getaway, even if In fact, there are no cars on quite enjoyably, forget about money it's just a few towns away. ❏ Jumby Bay. This resort, like so many for a while and just enjoy themselves. — Creators Syndicate
SPINAL COLUMN NEWSWEEKLY
It's all about fun, sisterhood Red Hat Society lets women enjoy themselves, each other
From left to right, Carol Kasat, Patricia Beebe, Queen Mum Sandy Werth, and Joanne Dunsmore of The Red Hat Sisterhood in Waterford. (Spinal Column Newsweekly photo/ Amy K. Lockard)
SEPTEMBER 12-18, 2012
n explosion of color is carrying friendship and lots of fun to women all over North America, including here in the lakes area. The Red Hat Society offers friendship and enjoyment for women before and after age 50, inviting them to forget about the day-to-day responsibilities of family and living, put on red hats and purple outfits and take pleasure in doing entirely what they want to do. The only rule is to have fun. These ladies really do whatever they want. They go out to dinner, laugh, and have a good time. Red hatters sometimes go shopping, or to plays and musicals as a group. Other times they simply meet to enjoy each other's company. The Red Hat Society began when Sue Ellen Cooper of Fullerton, Calif. shared a poem entitled "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, with her friends. The poem starts out: "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me." The red hat and purple colors in the poem caught on to become a cultural phenomenon that represents the freedom to wear and do whatever one wants: Since society members have experienced a lot, they can wear their red hats and purple attire with pride. Red hatters are proliferating across the United States and Canada, and across the boarder into Mexico. Closer to home, in the lakes area, several chapters offer membership, such as The Red Hat Sisterhood of Waterford. Check the Web site at www.redhatsociety.com to find one near you. Each chapter has a Queen Mum who sometimes hosts dinners or plans events or takes suggestions from other members for parties or activities, such as Sandy Werth, the Queen Mum of The Red Hat Sisterhood in Waterford. That chapter also has two Vice Queen Mums, Vangie Chase and Ethel Stepnitz. "We've gone to plays, and we've gone out to dinner, and had several activities," Werth said. "The Red Hat Society is just a fun group. We don't raise money. We don't have serious meetings. It's just to have fun." "We're not a philanthropic group," said Vice Queen Mum Chase. "We're all involved in other groups that do that, and this is strictly for fun, sisterhood and commaraderie." The Red Hat Sisterhood began in September 2004 and has grown to about 20 members, most of them from the lakes area. "About half of our members are from St. Stephen Lutheran Church (in Waterford), and the other half are friends of those members," Werth said. "It's nice, because those who already knew each other from the church were able to reach out and get to know the new members." Chapter members go out to places such as Sheila's Tea House in Rochester, where they eat and then shop in the downtown business district. "We went into all the stores with our red hats and people recognized our group," Werth said. "What has been a blessing to our group is that they came from different organizations or from different neighborhoods or with friends that didn't necessarily all know each other. "We just do fun things that some of us may have done at one time or another or
some may not have done yet, so it's fun," Werth said. "It has been real nice and it has allowed us to broaden our horizons and make new friends. It has been delightful in that way." Starting a chapter requires paying a $35 fee each year, which covers a listing on the society's web site and invitations to official Red Hat Society events. "That fee is paid by the chapter, not the individual members," Werth said. Members want nothing more from those who are interested in joining other than that they wear red hats and purple outfits, and to celebrate life with other members. "We're here to have fun, and that's really what it's all about," Werth said. Women do not have to be 50-years-old to join, as is sometimes cited. Some chapters can start with what the society calls "pink hatters," or those under 50. For those ladies who are a little younger but want to become a red hatter, the society will allow a "junior member" to gain conditional membership if they agree to wear a pink hat and lavender clothing prior to having their 50th birthday. Society members like to refer to this ceremony as the "Reducation!" Werth said The Red Hat Sisterhood of Waterford currently doesn't have any pink hatter members. "There's an annual two- to three-day event in Frankenmuth and we'll see pink hatters there," Werth said. "There's also an event every fall in the Saginaw and Midland area where there are always some pink hatters. They could be a daughter of a member or even a younger friend who is interested in the organization." Since some events require RSVP's for tickets, all members get an e-mail sent to them or invitations through the mail to notify them of chapter events. "We've had some dinners at our homes. We mix ourselves up with people we don't know so we get to know them better," Werth said. "This allows us to enjoy each other's company and create good friendships. I think it's important for women to bond with each another throughout our lives. We need to maintain friendships with other women and share our common experiences and have fun together, just like the men do with each other." The red hatters try to do something together once a month, even if it's just to plan for future events. "We've been discussing different things that we might do," Werth said of The Red Hat Sisterhood chapter. "We have been talking about going to Shipshewana, in Indiana, so we would probably stay overnight." Shipshewana is in the heart of the Indiana Amish Country, and is flush with flea markets for shopping; auctions for food, furniture, quilts, and baked goods; and is a frequent site for antique festivals and craft fairs. "It's touristy," Werth said. "They have good food and different restaurants. We might do something like that. We have talked about maybe going into Canada. Each person takes a different month and they come up with ideas (of things to do then). "We had a meal at someone's house and were tryPAGE 9B ❯ ❯ ❯ ❯
SPINAL COLUMN NEWSWEEKLY
AGE WITH GRACE, PEOPLE’S CHOICE WINNER THREE STRAIGHT YEARS FOR A REASON By Sally Rummel
Mary Grace Charter has a heart for helping people, and it shows in the success of her business, Age with Grace Senior Care. “We provide nonmedical home care so that people can live independently at home for as long as possible, as they age,” said Mary Grace. “We offer personal care, cooking, cleaning, transportation - but most of all, friendship.”
relationships with clients and their families by celebrating their lives. When a loved one passes, families miss our presence in their lives, as well as the caregivers mourn a friend. This level of customized care has led to the success and growth of this four year old business, and is why Age with Grace Senior Care was chosen as a Peoples’ Choice Award winner for the third time this year. “One client told us ‘Age with Grace came into our home as friends and left as family.’ That’s the type of care we hope to bring into the lives of our client families,” said Mary Grace.
Age with Grace discussing the next training session for caregivers.
WE’RE A HUGE RESOURCE. WE ASSIST PEOPLE IN FINDING OPTIONS AND SOLUTIONS AT A TIME WHEN MANY OF THEM ARE DESPERATE FOR HELP WITH THEIR LOVED ONE. IF WE’RE NOT THE RIGHT FIT, WE’LL FIND ONE THAT IS. –Mary Grace Charter, owner
Mary Grace Charter takes Natalie Grace to visit a client
Mary Grace meets personally with every client and their families in his or her home and tries to match-make that person with a caregiver who has a similar personality and interests. “We come into a person’s home as a friend, rather than just a caregiver,” explained Mary Grace. “We build
Mary Grace leads a staff of 40 from the new office she moved into this past January. “It’s actually like coming home for me here,” said Mary Grace. Located inside the Gennero Chiropractic building in Highland, she can recall all that she learned when she worked for Dr. Sal Gennero there as a chiropractic assistant for almost 10 years. “I thought of Dr. Gennero as a mentor,” said Mary Grace. ”His love and passion for his work was contagious in the
office and the community. He taught me that believing made all things possible. Even though he passed away four years ago, I still feel his presence with me. It’s an honor to be working in his building where his practice is still thriving.” Age with Grace Senior Care also serves as a resource for families in Oakland, Livingston and Wayne counties. “We change lives,” said Mary Grace. “We’re a huge resource. We assist people in finding options and solutions at a time when many of them are desperate for help with their loved one. If we’re not the right fit, we’ll find one that is.” Age with Grace Senior Care is located at 2230 E. Highland Rd. in Highland, inside Gennero Chiropractic Health Center Building. For more information, call (248) 529-6431, or visit www.agewithgraceseniorcare.com and email are always welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SEPTEMBER 12-18, 2012
Seniors volunteering Older adults are sharing their wisdom
The red hats and purple attire adorned by members of Red Hat Society chapters represent members' freedom to wear and do whatever they want: Since society members have experienced a lot in life, they can wear their red hats and purple clothes — which don't necessarily go together — with pride. (Spinal Column Newsweekly photo/Amy K. Lockard)
Red Hats ❯ ❯ ❯ ❯ PAGE 7B
ing to get ideas of what people might want to do," she said. "We all brought food to eat. It was fun because we were eating and talking and getting to know each other better and introducing ourselves again. Since we have had some new members we went around the room and told a little bit about ourselves and threw out ideas." If ladies are interested in joining the red hatters and want to find the right group to meet their needs, they can visit a couple of meetings as a guest. Most Queen Mums will accommodate guests quite readily. "It's a relaxed hour or two, or a day or evening activity for having fun," Werth said. Once interested ladies go to an activity and are comfortable with a certain chapter, the Queen Mum can provide the new member with a chapter ID that will be needed in order to add a new name to the chapter's online record. At that time, the new member will have the chance to be a Purple Perks member, costing $18 annually, which provides a 10 percent discount on merchandise purchased
through a Red Hat Society store; See's Candy discounts, reduced rates on FTD online orders; along with advance notice, early registration privileges, and discounts for regional and national events. Call Red Hat Society headquarters at 714-738-0001 for more information. Each red hatter has their own style which other members respect. Veteran members try to make new members feel comfortable. Society chapters provide an opportunity for women to socialize and celebrate life together, and can be particularly helpful for those who have just moved into the area or didn't really have a large friendship circle. In these cases, joining a Red Hat chapter allows a new member to enjoy being with a fun bunch of women. Those interested in joining a chapter can go to the society's web site and search for nearby chapters. "I know there's some in White Lake Township, as one of our members is part of one of those groups, also," Werth said. "There's been one at the senior center in Waterford, and some others in the southwest Oakland County area." ❏ — Spinal Column Newsweekly staff reports
t's hard to argue with science. According to several studies, people older than 60 who volunteer reported lower disability and higher levels of well-being relative to nonvolunteers. The effects of volunteering on seniors' health are greater than other factors, including education level, income and marriage status. "We've found that oftentimes when older adults retire from paid work but don't have something they are retiring 'to,' they begin to decline," says Renae Perry, the director of programs at The Senior Source. "Having something that gives meaning to our lives as we age is important, and sharing the experience and wisdom of a lifetime has a great impact on the person giving, as well as those receiving." The Corporation for National and Community Service reports that 18.7 million older adults across the United States contributed about 3 billion hours of service between 2008 and 2010. Perry says The Senior Source had just over 4,000 volunteers contribute their time last year. These volunteers included children, adults and seniors alike, who all volunteered in various capacities. Older adults have so much expertise, experience and wisdom, and oftentimes after retirement, they just need a person or place to share their talents with. Some seniors who volunteer want to continue doing something they love. For others, it's a chance to engage with the world around them in an entirely new and exciting way. There is an abundance of volunteer opportunities around the world. For those who are adventurous, the Peace Corps might be of interest. According to Kristina Edmunson, the deputy communications director of the Peace Corps, 7 percent of their volunteers are over the age of 50. "Older Americans who serve as Peace Corps volunteers bring a wealth of knowledge, life experiences and existing skills to their Peace Corps project. Many volunteers
become instant leaders in their new communities, helping to address some of the world's most pressing problems," says Edmunson. All Peace Corps volunteers, regardless of age, go through a medical application and screening process and then go on to serve a total of 27 months, which includes three months of training and 24 months of service. Edmunson says senior volunteers work in areas such as maternal health, environmental protection, HIV/AIDS prevention and more. For those who would rather opt for something closer to home, there are many volunteer opportunities at senior centers, libraries and charitable thrift stores, among others. These places typically offer volunteer positions that require a wide range of skills. "We work with more than 180 nonprofits in Dallas, so we are able to help older adults connect with whatever type of volunteer focus area or work they want to do," says Perry. Another option is to work with local kids. The Senior Source offers a few programs that pair senior volunteers with children, including programs such as "Off Our Rockers" and "Foster Grandparent Program." "Fewer children today have a strong grandparent relationship due to a number of societal factors," says Perry. "We've seen that pairing children and seniors is a win-win. It's great for the children to have these caring grandparent figures in their lives, and we've also seen the joy that children bring to seniors." Regardless of what type of volunteering seniors decide to do, the important thing is that they are volunteering. As the number of older adults continues to grow, the opportunities for them to spread their time and experience to others also rises. "(Seniors volunteering) can also make the difference between a vibrant, healthy aging process and an isolated, lonely disengagement from the world around us," says Perry. ❏ — Creators Syndicate
SPINAL COLUMN NEWSWEEKLY
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he news about cancer continues to be good. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that death rates decreased by 1.6 percent annually from 2004 to 2008 for lung, colorectal and prostate cancers. Death rates from breast cancer have remained stable — but steep declines occurred in the early 2000s because of reduced use of hormone replacement therapy. But the death rates from certain cancers are increasing. These include pancreatic, uterine and esophageal cancers. And deaths from malignant melanoma are reaching epidemic proportions, particularly in the Sun Belt. While the overall rates of death are falling, the actual numbers of cancers are increasing as the 72 million baby boomers reach old age. In 2011, the American Cancer Society reported 1.6 million newly diagnosed cancers and 580,000 deaths. The most common were lung (160,000 deaths), colorectal (49,000 deaths), breast (39,000 deaths), pancreas (37,000 deaths) and prostate (34,000 deaths). Many cancers are more common in families that may carry certain genes that increase the risk of certain cancers, such as colon, breast, bladder and uterine. The risk of getting colon or prostate cancer is much higher in blacks than it is in whites. For anyone who is at increased risk, diligent screening is critical to identify and treat cancer as early as possible. Screening may be required at a much earlier age for those at high risk. And though there is controversy about the use of the prostate-specific antigen test to screen for prostate cancer in healthy men, there is agreement that the PSA test should be done in high-risk individuals and populations. All people are at risk for cancer, and every person should follow the standard guidelines for screening for the common cancers afflicting the population. Though one cannot do much about their genes, there is general consensus that people can reduce their cancer risk. Over the past 50 years, concerted efforts have been undertaken to reduce the pollutants in the environment and in our food that can cause cancer. Smoking cessation and avoiding excessive expo-
sure to irradiation (which occurs each time a CT scan is done) should be encouraged. Just as critical is the compelling link between cancer and obesity, the foods one eats and a sedentary lifestyle. According to the National Cancer Institute, there is a strong relationship between obesity and the risk of colorectal, breast (after the menopause), pancreatic, esophageal, thyroid and gallbladder cancers. But whether the threat is weight or food choices is still not clear. It's known that a high-fat diet increases cancer risk irrespective of weight. And the kind of fat is key. Diets high in saturated fats (from animal products) and polyunsaturated fats (soy, corn and safflower) increase cancer risk. By contrast, monounsaturated fats, found in olive and canola oils, decrease cancer risk. Omega-6 fatty acids, found in animal fat, increase cancer risk, whereas omega-3 fatty acids, found in nuts and fish oil, reduce risk. It is not how much fat but which fats you eat that is important. Cancer also is more prevalent in those who become overweight because of too many calories from sugar and starches. This increases the risk of diabetes and cancer. The message is clear: A healthful, prudent diet is essential to reduce the risk of obesity and to decrease the risk of the most common diseases leading to our demise (vascular disease and cancer). And finally, more and more evidence indicates a link between a sedentary lifestyle and cancer. Numerous research studies have shown a strong link between inactivity and a higher risk of colon, breast, uterine and prostate cancers. And the risk of lung cancer is 20 percent higher in smokers who are inactive as compared with those who exercise. There is much to celebrate about advances made against cancer. Lifestyle changes have decreased the risk, and improved screening and better therapies have led to more and more cures. But much needs to be done. More research is needed to optimize diagnosis and treatment, and one must personally commit to doing everything possible to ensure that they remain cancer-free. ❏ — Creators Syndicate
SEPTEMBER 12-18, 2012
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SPINAL COLUMN NEWSWEEKLY