Important Tips for Traveling With the Elderly

Important Tips for Traveling With the Elderly



Travel may be one of the greatest gifts you can give Mom or Dad.

The trip may be to visit other family and, particularly, grandkids and great grandchildren. It may be an adventure to a destination, aboard a cruise ship or even a return to a home of long ago.

You may accompany your parent; or, if he or she can maintain some independence, the trip may be solo. Either way, there are some important considerations:



Research and Plan Ahead


Whether you will travel together or your parent will be solo, planning, reserving and confirming must be accomplished sooner rather than later. When the destination is resolved with target dates, research airlines, Amtrak, buses, cruise lines. For air and land transportation, seek the most direct and shortest travel times.

If there is a choice of three airlines, for example, enroll your parent in the no-cost frequent flier program for each. This should give you access to the lowest fares and possible benefits at the airport and aboard the flight, as well as for requesting special services.

Know that once very common, most senior discount fares are history, but there are always discounted flights through comparison sites.  For special senior travel deals and excellent customer service, I like CheapoAir.



Special Services


Request seat assignment in the rows designated for disabled travelers. And, importantly, request cost-free wheelchair service at every airport origination, connection and arrival location. If there is meal service aboard, advise the reservation system of any dietary needs.

If traveling alone, ensure your parent will have human assistance from the counter, through security, to the gate and then to aboard the aircraft. If staffed by an airline employee, there is no cost for wheelchair or assistance. If staffed by Red Cap-type personnel, you or your parent will be expected to tip for that assist. If you are traveling together, you can offer to handle the wheelchair.

If you don’t make and confirm all of these requests at the time of reservation, the airline, train or bus line has no obligation to make them available on check-in or while en route.





A government passport is accepted as the highest level of identification by federal TSA security officers. If you or your parent do not already have a passport, consider applying for such months prior to your travel. Your local post office will have the application forms; or you can go online to access the information and forms. Official photographs are available at AAA offices and at many large drug and department stores. Personal photos are not acceptable. Two copies of the photograph must be sent with your application.

Request copies of prescriptions and/or statements of medical conditions from each physician and medical treatment center.

Make at least four photocopy sets of the passport, driver’s license, Medicare and insurance cards, travel tickets and itinerary, boarding pass (if secured in advance online), plus any physician prescriptions and/or statements. One complete set is placed in your parent’s hand-carry bag, another in his or her roll-aboard luggage. One set is forwarded to family at the arrival destination, and one is left at home.

Provide a prepaid cell phone, and program in your telephone number as the first emergency number.

Example: this inexpensive TRACFONE comes with a free $40 airtime bundle.




Hartmann Lineaire Carry On Spinner, Black, One Size

Pack light. For a person traveling with at least some limitation, aim to pack everything necessary in a roll-aboard suitcase plus a medium-size over-the-shoulder carry-on. Do not check the roll-aboard as luggage, as in-cabin flight staff will gladly stash it in the overhead rack. Such will save a lot of time at the final destination airport. (Image: the Hartmann Lineaire Carry On Spinner).

Bring copies of any prescriptions and/or physician statements in the hand-carry bag.

If Mom or Dad is toting gifts to relatives, do not wrap them. Place the items in the roll-aboard luggage.

If your parent is traveling alone, before you close up her or his carry-aboard bag, prepare and slip in at the top a note stating “I love you” and “I delight in your new adventure.”

For advice on finding the right travel bags for seniors, see How the Find the Best Luggage for Seniors.


Example: This Delsey Quilted Rolling Under Seat Tote is a convenient and high quality carry-on bag that rolls!





There are thieves everywhere, particularly, in high-traffic travel centers. Don’t give the scalawags any opportunity to steal from your parent.


Mom should not carry a purse but, instead a money belt worn under a blouse or a neat Passage Wallet hidden under her coat by a neck cord.


Dad should not carry a wallet in his back pocket but, instead, carry a travel passport wallet with a neck cord or as a hidden wallet tucked into his pants and secured by a cord to his belt.

Advise Mom or Dad, if traveling alone, always to keep their carry-on between their feet when standing, or with the shoulder strap looped around the leg of a chair when seated.

For comfort, consider the purchase of a travel pillow, a c-shaped balloon that supports the neck and head when resting aboard transportation.




Managing Medication


Most mature adults take five or more medications once or even several times a day. The transportation staff has no obligation regarding the medical dosing of your parent. But you can ask in advance that at a specified time (stated in local time), the staff remind Mom or Dad to take the medication. The alternative is to provide your parent with an alarm watch, or have a daily alarm set on their cell phone.  A travel pill organizer can make traveling with medication easier, as well.








Example: This Extra Large 7-Day Weekly Pill Organizer with XL Case has compartments for morning noon, evening and bedtime.



Security Checkpoints



If Mom or Dad is in a wheelchair at transportation centers, access to and through TSA (transportation security administration) security may actually be quicker than through the long line of other travelers.

Brief your parent (or state to the TSA, if you are traveling together) about any medical condition that would set off alarms, such as surgical hip and knee implants. To avoid unwanted delays, get a physician’s statement about the implanted steel and make sure the senior has that documentation with them. Oftentimes, personnel will ask the elder to step aside and perform a wand screening, rather than passing through the sensors. If your parent is in a wheelchair, security will use a wand while he or she is seated.

Dress your parent in easily-removed (but safe) walking shoes. Security will probably want them removed. Present, if pertinent, any physician statement regarding your Mom or Dad’s medical condition or limitation.

Before traveling, explain to Mom or Dad that the security process is vital to her or his safety.

See Finding Practical Shoes for the Elderly



Destinations and Travel Options



The world of travel is open to just about everyone, even those elderly parents receiving care. Start a discussion with Mom or Dad to learn her or his travel wishes. Determine if your parent can travel solo, or if you want or need to share in the adventure. If you start with the mission of fulfilling a parent’s dream, you can’t go wrong.



Tours and Cruises


There are thousands of tour and cruise possibilities. Tours and cruises offer a unique service, in that they are totally planned, operated and staffed to deliver the promised program and destination discovery. Several tours operators, including Accessible Journeys and Flying Wheels, specialize in “accessible lifestyle vacations,” which cater to those with special needs and disabilities.

Cruise and tour accommodations are priced on a per-person basis based on double-occupancy. Therefore, if choosing a tour or cruise, travel with your Mom or Dad to provide caregiving assistance while in the room and during non-programmed times. A cruise or tour may be the ultimate escape and very civilized adventure.



Advanced Information for the Destination


If your parent is flying solo to visit other family, schedule a telephone conference with your relatives to go over the caregiving support your elder needs. Advise of your approach in assisting Mom or Dad, so that they do not assume to take the domineering and dictating role. Advise of your parent’s favorite foods and activities so that they can try to be accommodating during the visit, making it all the more “like home” for Mom or Dad. And, importantly, advise of the medical and medication regimen that must be followed. Also make sure that they have all important legal documents with them should an emergency arise (for example, if you are listed as their agent for the Advance Directive, be certain this information is with them should something happen).

On the day of travel, arrive at the airport or other transportation two hours early, to visit with your parent without pressure, share a meal or snack, review the travel plan and itinerary and, importantly, to use the wheelchair-capable restroom shortly before heading to the gate. The latter should reduce the need for your parent to access the small restroom during travel.



Final Thoughts



Travel with Mom or Dad. You may find it to be one of the best experiences of your life. Yes, you continue to be a caregiver, but your travel and destination will probably prove to be an escape, a freedom because of the new setting, environment and opportunity.

Travel safely and well.



Suggested Reading:

Are you planning to travel with an elderly companion? 

I recommend  Planes, Canes, and AutomobilesConnecting With Your Aging Parents Through Travel by Valerie M. Grubb

This super-practical book is the go-to guide for adult children: it combines the author’s wisdom from years of traveling with her own aging mother with sensible tips, checklists, and sample itineraries to help readers plan and enjoy a vacation with their parents!  It’s an enjoyable, informative read, and it will make traveling more comfortable and fun for both generations.

Read reviews.




Thanks for visiting and reading … I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas.  I welcome your comments below.





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Tips for Easier Senior Car Travel

Tips for Easier Senior Car Travel



Car Travel is Challenging for Seniors and Their Caregivers


Traveling by car can be challenging for seniors. Whether they drive themselves or you’re playing chauffeur, simply using a car can be difficult. This can be caused by health conditions or the physical changes of normal aging.

For someone with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, or mobility issues, the difficulty level can be exponential. It may even take multiple people to help them safely into and out of a car.

This is important because most seniors travel by car, especially when visiting the doctor. This usually means frequent car struggles for both seniors and caregivers.

All seniors benefit if they have an easier time traveling by car. Seniors who can drive will feel more independent and confident. Those with mobility issues won’t have to go through such an exhausting ordeal.

Getting around more easily also helps seniors be more connected with family and friends, preventing the negative effects of isolation.



Gadgets That Really Help With Seniors’ Car Travel



Here are some aids that solve the problems that can make car travel so frustrating!



Grab and Pull Seat Belt Reacher



For those with arthritis or limited shoulder / torso mobility, it’s hard to reach up and pull the seat belt down. This reacher attaches to the seat belt and makes an extra long handle.



Seat Belt Extender


With limited mobility, it can be difficult to get the seat belt buckled. This seat belt extender makes it easier to reach and buckle up properly for a safe car ride.

Make sure to get the right size extender to fit your car’s buckle.



Seat Belt Opening Aid

For people with arthritis or limited hand and thumb strength, unbuckling the seat belt can be frustrating. This aid makes it easier to undo a standard seat belt.



This Bucklebee Easy Buckle Release Aid is designed to reduce the unbuckling force required for a release by the rider.  It has a large grip for easy, ergonomic release, and remains attached to the seat for convenient. 



Seat Buckle Guard

Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s or dementia unbuckle their seatbelts while you’re driving. Dangerous!

This seat buckle guard is a good solution. Just stick your key in to pop the buckle open.

This BuckleBoss Seat Belt Guard doesn’t allow your senior to unbuckle themselves in case of an accident or emergency, but it may be worth the risk if they frequently unbuckle themselves while you’re driving – a more immediate danger.



Swivel Seat Cushion

This cushion has a base that swivels. Seniors can just sit down, then easily swivel their legs into the car.



No more struggling to lift legs and turn at the same time. The SOJOY Swivel Seat Cushion also makes it much easier for someone who’s helping them into the car. 

If the car has bucket seats, place a towel on the car’s seat to fill the gap and allow the swivel cushion to sit flat.



Auto Standing Aid

This removable handle fits securely into almost all driver or passenger side car doors. It’s a non-slip grip hand hold that lets seniors boost themselves up and out of the car. The Stander Handybar has a 350 lb capacity.






Auto Aids for Those With Limited Mobility


When older adults have limited mobility, it’s a struggle for them and you to leave the house. Getting into and out of the car can be almost impossible.

Without any auto mobility aids, helping these seniors into a car can take multiple people, making every trip to the doctor a major event. If you can’t get enough help from others, you could end up hurting yourself or might be forced to use non-emergency ambulance transportation (expensive!).


Transfer Board

To help your senior get from their wheelchair to a car, this Mabis Wooden Transfer Slide Board bridges the gap and makes it possible for them to scoot from one seat to the other without needing to stand. Reviewers say it has a weight capacity of up to 350 lbs.





Pivot Disc

Some older adults can stand up from a wheelchair, but can’t turn around to sit in the car. This disc saves you from injuring your back or shoulders while helping them turn around.

With this pivot disc, your senior stands on the disc and you can slowly turn them so their back faces the car seat and they can sit down.



If you need to move someone from a wheelchair to the car, this Preston BeasyGlyder board can make that task easier and safer on both you and your senior. There’s a disc that slides along the board so you can push them from one seat to the other. They don’t need to scoot their butt and you don’t need to provide as much lifting or carrying support.


It’s expensive, but may let you delay more expensive options like non-emergency ambulance transport, buying an automatic access lift seat, or getting an accessible van.


Final Thoughts

Auto aids are a worthwhile investment if it makes it possible to take your senior out of the house. Plus, even the most expensive of these options cost much less than a one-time ambulance transport.


Lauren's Hope Medical ID


Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas.  I welcome your comments below.




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How to Find the Best Luggage for Seniors

How to Find the Best Luggage for Seniors


A Shopping Guide for Seniors’ Travel Suitcases



Luggage can be a burdensome but all-important part of our travel plans. Ever-changing Federal Aviation Administration regulations can also make travel with baggage difficult, especially for an elderly passenger who may also be battling with limited strength, eyesight, stamina or dexterity. There are a few characteristics, however, that one can employ in rolling luggage that can make the travel experience more fun for the elderly.

(Photo above: Samsonite Aspire XLight Expandable Spinner)


What to Look For in Rolling Luggage


One of the most important decisions you have to make is about what luggage to choose. Make the wrong choice and it can put a damper on your entire experience. The best travel suitcases for seniors are designed to be as light as possible in weight without sacrificing strength. The types of handles and wheels used nowadays make them far easier to control than ever before.

If you are using old luggage that you have had for many years, you are not taking advantage of the most recent technology. Rolling suitcases are being made that make maneuvering of a suitcase more efficient than ever before. This may make the difference between spending your whole holiday nursing injuries and handling your luggage with ease and confidence.



As with all gadgets elderly, size is a factor to consider when choosing luggage. Though you should always pick the smallest suitcase that meets your travel needs, you also want to keep in mind the weight and size of the physical carrier. TSA regulations state that carry-on bags can be no more than 45 linear inches, which is the total of the bag’s height, width and depth. Some suitcases are also made of lightweight material, such as nylon, which can cut down on your bag’s girth, making it easier to stow and access whether you’re on a plane, bus, train or in a car.

Consider choosing a small suitcase. This does mean that you have to be smarter when packing but the advantage is that managing your luggage is so much easier. When you choose a bigger suitcase, the tendency is to fill up the space just because it’s there.

Of course the size you choose will depend on factors such as the length and type of your trip. Many people prefer to use a suitcase that is small enough to work as a carry-on to avoid delays that come with checking in. Even if you find it difficult to lift a suitcase into an overhead locker, in-cabin flight staff are happy to assist.


Luggage Size Examples:


(Image: Coolife Luggage Expandable 3-Piece Set)




Everything is called “lightweight” today but it is important to check on the exact weight. Even if you have a rolling suitcase, it still has to be carried from time to time and the lighter the better. The weight should ideally come mostly from the clothes inside and not from the suitcase itself. Experts suggest that an empty suitcase should not weigh more than 7.5 pounds (3.4 kilograms) and many of them fall into this category today.




Even among lightweight suitcases, some have more capacity than others. An expandable one is a good option.


For Example, this Skyway Luggage Mirage Superlight 24-Inch 4 Wheel Expandable Upright gains increased packing capacity with the simple pull of a zipper.


Skyway Luggage Mirage Superlight 24-Inch 4 Wheel Expandable Upright, Maritime Blue, One Size




Packing cubes help you to organize the space – a set of cubes in various sizes helps to keep your items organized. You can pack similar items together, making it  easier to find what you need without having to dig through your whole suitcase.


Packing Cubes Example: I have the Pro Packing Cubes 10 Piece Set and I feel it makes my packing and unpacking so much more organized and convenient!




Multiple Handles

While more bells and whistles aren’t always welcome when it comes to elder-friendly gadgets, luggage is one exception.

A telescoping suitcase with an extendable handle allows you to wheel your suitcase with one hand. The telescoping handle can be extended to different lengths and locked in place. The maximum extension must be right for your height so your back does not suffer strain.  A comfortable handle is also important for reducing stress on wrists and arms.


Example:  This Samsonite Silhouette’s wide pull handle is made with thick cushioning and soft rubber seals to provide an exceptionally comfortable grip, plus, it’s “Right Height” system allows you to set the handle height at the position that’s best for you to reduce weight-bearing stress on your arm and back. 

Your suitcase should also have  carry handles on the top or side of the bag, allowing you to lift it whichever way you prefer. A comfortable handle will reduce stress on wrists and arms.

Numerous handles mean that a person can grab, push, pull, place, throw and lug their baggage in many different ways from many different angles. Extra handles also allow a second person to provide assistance when it comes to storing or accessing the bag – something that Boomers may appreciate when they travel with their stubborn parents.



The Samsonite Silhouette has an extra handles on the top and side of the bag


The reviews on this Samsonite are excellent, with many reviewers specifically impressed with the handle’s comfort and quality.  It also has an extra handle on the top and  on the side.




The Samsonite Winfield has a high quality, double-ended zipper.

The most popular luggage zippers today are coil zippers which are flexible and smooth to operate but still strong. They consist of two coils on each side, stitched onto the zipper tape and the teeth are formed by the winding of the coils. The most durable zippers are chain zippers that have individual locking teeth fused onto the zipper tape but they are more expensive and not as flexible.

A closed-end zipper that opens up at the opposite ends and comes together in the middle is the most practical type as you can still use the suitcase even if one zipper breaks.



Easy-to-Operate Features

Speaking of handles and zippers – they should also be easy to operate!  The zipper should move back and forth with ease, and the handle should willingly raise and lower.

Many newer luggage models require users to push a button on the handle before it releases. This extra step may not be easy for elderly travelers, but it’s difficult to find luggage without it. Therefore, it’s best to find a handle that has a differently colored, clearly labeled and easily pushed button. If you have to push this button two or three times to get it to release the handle it’s time to move on to a better model.


*Important – if you will be flying, read Healthier Air Travel Starts With These Preboarding Tricks!


For decades, suitcases have had small wheels that used the same technology as in-line skates. They are fixed to the side of the case and roll in one direction. These wheels allow you to pull your suitcase along behind you.

Newer models have four wheels that move in all directions rather than just backwards and forwards. These are called ‘spinners’ and they allow you to wheel your suitcase alongside you. They are easier to maneuver, especially in tight spaces as they don’t have to be tipped and pulled along behind you. Some people dislike spinners because they say they glide away from you on an incline and aren’t suitable for any surfaces other than in airports. However, the best spinners do not have these problems.


Example: The Ricardo Beverly Hills Roxbury uses a sturdy dual spinner wheel system that allows 360 degree mobility whether you push, pull or walk alongside the case.



Look for good wheel spacing.  Wheels that are placed too closely together can cause rolling luggage to tip, especially when taking corners. An overturned bag is not just an inconvenience – it can be a hazard as well. Aside from tripping the traveler behind you, a tipped bag can also roll an elderly person’s wrist, resulting in a sprang or even a fall. This is why it’s so important to check that your wheels are placed as close to the sides of the suitcase as possible.

When it comes to wheels, reliability is the most important consideration. You don’t want your wheels to break and you want them to be strong enough to wheel over uneven surfaces if necessary.




Example: This Samsonite DK3 has 3 compartments on the top-front of the case.





Accessible Compartments

Your luggage should have a good mix of large, medium and small compartments to accommodate items of all sizes. An outside pocket can carry a light jacket or sweatshirt and even a folding travel umbrella. This means you will be prepared for unexpected changes in the weather.

Some elderly individuals have problems accessing small compartments, however, making lighting and the location of these compartments key. While most luggage companies don’t place lights inside the bags, many will keep smaller compartments near the top of the suitcase, where light is more apt to penetrate. Individuals who have a particularly difficult time with smaller compartments should rely on suitcases with numerous medium-sized compartments that can hold smaller travel bags and makeup kits.




Quality of Materials

It does not make sense to compromise on the quality of the materials used when it comes to buying a suitcase.

There isn’t a single best material for a suitcase. They are made of all kinds of materials like ballistic nylon, polyester, aluminum, leather and polycarbonate. Each material has its pros and cons. For example, leather is very durable but it is heavy in weight. Blends or “poly” materials are not as durable and polyester is often used in less expensive ranges.

The choice between hard and soft-sided luggage depends largely on preference today because hard-sided suitcases are lighter in weight than ever before and soft-sided ones are more durable. The top fabric choices for soft-sided bags are ballistic nylon and cordura. Aluminum and polycarbonate are the most popular materials used for hard-sided cases.

Color Contrast Example: The Hauptstadtkoffer Alex Series is available in 19 color choices.


Color Contrasts

Everyone wants their luggage to look sleek, but the elderly may especially benefit from color contrasts, especially when it comes to zippers and handles. Picking luggage that has stand-out colors will allow the user to quickly and easily locate any zipper or handle.

It also helps to have a suitcase that stands out so you can easily identify it.  If you prefer a more classic color, like black or blue, it’s easy enough to attach a brightly colored tag. Even a brightly colored scarf tied around a handle can help you identify your suitcase.



Cost obviously plays an important part in your decision but it is not worth buying a cheap suitcase and struggling with a broken zipper or wonky wheels. Travel can be hard on your luggage. On the other hand, there is a happy medium and it’s not necessary to spend a fortune either.





Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 Expandable 25″ Spinner



Check-In Luggage 

This Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 Expandable 25″ Spinner is a great choice for check-in luggage. The 25-inch model offers plenty of room without going over airline weight limits, looks good, comes with a warranty, and is considered extremely reliable by most travelers. 

The extension handle has three stops and its self-aligning magnetic dual wheel spinners ensure that the suitcase rolls in a straight line.

Read Reviews.








Carry-On Luggage 

For air travel, many travelers are opting to limit their baggage to what they are allowed to bring on board. 

The Hartmann Lineaire Carry On Spinner is a terrific all-around performer. This suitcase is ultra lightweight at only 6 lbs, easy to roll, durable and it can contain about a week’s worth of clothes if you pack lightly.












Another carry-on bag I like is the Delsey Quilted Rolling Underseat Tote.  It’s loaded with pockets and compartments to keep you super organized, and is just the right size for slipping under your seat on the plane.






Best Overall Brand

Based on their survey of more than 3400 subscribers, Consumer Reports found that durability was a top concern for consumers.  They also found that most people were much happier with four wheels than two wheels. Surprisingly, some of the top brands did not come out on top on this survey. Two brands that performed well in all categories were Eagle Creek and Briggs and Riley



Example:  The Briggs & Riley Kinzie Street International Carry-on Spinner Suitcase is made of Proprietary Tartex,™  a unique, embossed, coated fabric that provides durability and moisture resistance.  It rolls well and the handle extends and retracts easily.

This suitcase is a little on the pricey side, but according to customer reviews, it’s well worth the extra cost.










Most Versatile

Osprey’s Ozone Convertible 50L/22″ is a traveling chameleon. It easily converts from a wheeled piece of luggage to a backpack with a full suspension system that is carry-on compatible.

The Osprey combines a durable ABS plastic back plate with a lightweight aluminum frame, riding on large, sealed bearing wheels for easy rolling even on bumpy cobblestones.There’s a large front zippered panel pocket and a back pocket with a drain port for damp storage.

The detachable Ozone Convertible Daypack’s main compartment has storage for a laptop, tablet and extra clothes or food. There’s a front panel pocket and also a zippered pocket for securing small items. Plus, it’s covered by Osprey’s “All-Mighty Guarantee.”  Read reviews.








Super Lightweight

This IT Luggage World’s Lightest Tritex 4 Wheel Spinner Carry-On is truly ultra lightweight at only 4.3 pounds.

Its constructed from high density Tritex fabric and features a durable fiberglass frame with a sturdy locking handle system. 

It comes with 4 easy-glide wheels, practical zip pockets, and a 2 inch expander for increased packing capacity.



Final Thoughts


Your choice of luggage can affect the comfort of your travel experience.  Take some time to assess your needs, and opt for a high quality selection which fits your budget.  Pay attention to size, wheels and durability, and look for multiple compartments for added convenience.  Also consider packing cubes; they are a great value for the efficiency they add to your organizing and packing.  Finally, make sure your purchase is refundable.  That way, you can test drive the bag a bit at home to be sure its a good fit.

P.S.  For special senior travel deals and excellent customer service, I like CheapoAir.



Suggested Reading:

Are you planning to travel with an elderly companion? 

I recommend  Planes, Canes, and AutomobilesConnecting With Your Aging Parents Through Travel by Valerie M. Grubb

This super-practical book is the go-to guide for adult children: it combines the author’s wisdom from years of traveling with her own aging mother with sensible tips, checklists, and sample itineraries to help readers plan and enjoy a vacation with their parents!  It’s an enjoyable, informative read, and it will make traveling more comfortable and fun for both generations.

Read reviews.



Thanks for visiting and reading … I hope this article provided some helpful ideas.  I welcome your comments below.







You may also be interested in:

Healthier Air Travel Starts With These Preboarding Tricks!

Important Tips For Traveling With the Elderly

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