Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter


Up to 20% of all American adults aged 55 or older experience a mental health concern. Despite these statistics, most seniors in the USA do not receive the necessary mental health care, with less than 3% having seen a medical or mental health practitioner. Reasons for failing to seek professional assistance include a lack of funding, a denial of the problems at hand and the stigma surrounding mental illness.

As we grow older we are faced with an increasing number of health problems which affects both our physical and mental wellbeing. There are numerous mental health concerns that are prevalent amongst the elderly and that should be addressed with the utmost of compassion and care.  

Of these conditions, depression and dementia are the most common while others such as psychosis and schizophrenia also require regular intervention and treatment.  A closer look at some of these can provide both the elderly and their caretakers with valuable insight into these conditions, resulting in greater understanding and care.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as many of 5% of the beloved elderly population in America is affected by depression. It is very unfortunate that many cases of depression remain untreated due to misdiagnosis that stem from the depression mimicking normal age-related problems. It is in our human nature to be reluctant to talk about our feelings, making a much-needed diagnosis even harder. For those seniors that live independently it becomes even harder to reach out due to their isolation. Depression manifests itself in various ways such as insomnia, a loss of energy and appetite, overwhelming feelings of guilt and even suicidal thoughts. While anti-depressants are commonly used to treat the condition and have a reasonable success rate, psychotherapy is also often prescribed. Love and support from family and friends can also be of significant help in treating depression in the elderly.


Dementia is a very general term that refers to a decline in mental ability so severe that it interferes with the senior’s daily life. The most common type of dementia among seniors is Alzheimer’s which accounts for between 60% and 80% of all cases. Severe memory loss on a daily basis may be a sign of impending dementia although professional medical assistance is needed for an accurate diagnosis. As a caretaker to an elderly person it is important to look out for the often subtle signs that may point to the early stage of dementia. These signs include slight vocal and focus impairments as well as recurring episodes of apathy and listlessness.

Mental health issues are not always easy to discuss, especially for seniors who do not want to burden anyone with their problems, making it imperative for caretakers and family members to be alert to the various signs and symptoms pointing to a decline in mental health. As bitter a pill as it may be t swallow it is vitally important to remember that most conditions can be addressed fairly easily, ensuring a good quality life for the senior involved.

New Castle News reported the guilty plea of Ashley N. Wilcox, a nurse’s aide, employed at Golden Hill Nursing Home.  She entered a plea to charges that accused her of abusing dementia patients.  Wilcox had said at the time of her arrest that she had worked 10 months at Golden Hill before she was terminated in May, 2016. The charges were brought against her on May 2, 2016, following an investigation into reports from Wilcox’s co-workers about the allegations against her.

The sentence recommended by assistant district Attorney Jonathan Miller is three consecutive 90-day terms of probation. Her plea was to three summary charges of harassment for subjecting others to physical contact. Miller noted those represent one count for each of three victims.  Wilcox will be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. March 28 in Cox’s court.

The 13 other counts against her, which include six misdemeanors each of stalking and simple assault, and three other summary offenses, will be dropped as part of the plea agreement.

As a result of the charges and Wilcox’s termination from employment, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Division of Nursing Care Facilities conducted an administrative hearing on Aug. 10, 2016, and on July 25, 2017, concluded that “this nurse aide has substantiated findings on file with the Pennsylvania Nurse Aide Registry. Because there are substantiated findings on file, this nurse aide cannot work in a long-term care facility in Pennsylvania.”


The owner of Orianna Health Systems, a national for-profit chain, filed for bankruptcy last week.  Orianna will still own and operate the facilities during the bankruptcy proceedings.  See for more information.

Orianna owes $52 million in rent to Omega, a real estate investment trust or REIT, and $67 million to vendors and “related entities,” according to court records. Orianna is Omega’s largest tenant, according to securities filings. Omega has agreed to provide Orianna with up to $30 million in financing as the company goes through bankruptcy proceedings.

Orianna operates skilled nursing facilities in seven states, with around 4,500 beds and 5,000 employees.  Clearly the owners siphoned off too much money to allow the facilities to operate properly.  There is no reason a chain should go bankrupt unless mismanagement occurred.

4 West Holdings Inc, which operates as Orianna’s operating agent, reached a deal with its landlord Omega Healthcare Investors Inc and agreed to transfer 23 facilities to a new operator and provide for the sale of 19 others, according to court records.

Freelance Contribution by Anna Kucirkova, for Bay Alarm Medical

Originally Published: October 2, 2017

It’s an unfortunate reality that many seniors find themselves terribly isolated. After a spouse passes away or a debilitating illness hits, it’s common for a senior to be cut off from both friends and family for extended periods of time. Obviously, this isn’t intentional on anyone’s part – it’s simply a disheartening reality.

Isolation is not limited to just a few seniors – it’s a significant, widespread problem. As Sarah Stevenson writes:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 11 million, or 28% of people aged 65 and older, lived alone at the time of the census.

As people get older, their likelihood of living alone only increases. Additionally, more and more older adults do not have children, reports the AARP, and that means fewer family members to provide company and care as those adults become seniors.

Additionally, living in isolation cause serious problems for older adults:

  • Increased risk of death
  • Mental and physical health problems
  • Possibility of elder abuse
  • Long term illness
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Unhealthy behaviors
  • And more

It’s a problem that can’t be ignored, but it also presents some significant challenges. If you’re caring for an older adult, how you ensure they receive regular connection with other people? How can they live alone without constantly feeling alone?

Here are 6 simple ways to help older adults feel connected.

Arrange Transportation To and From Social Activities

Perhaps the biggest challenge for many seniors is transportation. As they get older, their eyesight often dims and their reflexes slow. They may voluntarily choose to stop driving or be forced to. And while this may make the roads safer for others, it causes them to keenly feel how alone they are and prevents them from being with friends.

One of the most effective ways you can help the older adult in your life is by making transportation available to them. This can be done in a number of simple ways:

  • If you live near them, offer to regularly drive them to and from different social functions.
  • Create a network of friends who are willing to occasionally drive them to events. Schedule this transportation to ensure it happens on a regular basis.
  • Help them learn the ins and outs of public transportation.
  • Find out if community or senior centers offer support services.

Lisa Esposito writes:

If you’re concerned that a neighbor – or distant family member – is at risk for isolation, contacting the town’s senior center is a good starting point. Many senior centers have social workers to put it all together by determining people’s needs and plugging into the right resources. States offer a variety of services for seniors. “In Massachusetts, we have aging service access points,” [geriatric worker Carrie] Johnson says. Following an assessment, people are connected to Meals on Wheels, homemaker services (which vary by state but may encompass chores like cleaning, laundry and maintenance), grocery-shopping and other programs. They might need personal care assistants to help with bathing. All these providers add to a person’s support system, Johnson says, “both social and kind of eyes on the ground.”

Given that transportation is one of, if not the biggest challenge, meeting this need alone can go a long way toward solving the isolation issue.

Encourage Attendance At Places Of Worship

While this one will only apply to older adults who are religious, it’s certainly a healthy practice. Given the weekly rhythms of most places of worship, they offer a constant, positive place to find social interaction.

Additionally, many attendees of these places are more than willing to help transport seniors to and from their functions. They see it as a way of caring for those in their midst.

Finally, some churches will have ministries specifically geared toward older adults, including transportation to functions, visits from members, and more. You can help the senior in your life avoid isolation by connecting them to a church, mosque, synagogue, or other place of worship where they’re comfortable.

Encourage Ownership

One of the great challenges of growing older is that you aren’t caring for others as much. When you were younger, you took care of kids or a spouse or house or employees, but as you get older those things tend to fade. The only person depending on you is you.

This can cause older adults to feel unimportant, not needed or wanted, and purposeless. They no longer have anyone depending on them, which can cause them to feel apathetic.

One simple way to help seniors avoid isolation and give them a sense of being needed is to give them a pet. The pet provides companionship and is dependent on the owner for feeding, hygiene, and exercise.

Aging Care notes:

Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld, who brings her golden retriever mix Sandee to her New York City office, has even witnessed animals’ ability to rev up elder owners’ memories. “I’ve seen those with memory loss interact and access memories from long ago,” she says. “Having a pet helps the senior focus on something other than physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.”

Additionally, having a pet can create new social connections. It’s not uncommon for one dog owner to stop and talk to another dog owner, which can sometimes lead to friendship.

By giving an older adult a pet, you can give them have a fresh sense of being needed, which can infuse life and energy back into them.

Help Them Volunteer

One wonderful way to connect isolated seniors with people is to ask them for help. Volunteering allows them to meaningfully contribute to the lives of others, which can give them a renewed sense of purpose and worth.

The volunteering doesn’t need to be complex. Depending on the health of the person, some options include:

  • Local schools
  • The local library
  • The humane society
  • The local hospital
  • Religious places of worship
  • The Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts

If they have a particular skillset, such as accounting or counseling, connect them those who need help in these areas.

There are hundreds of needs that aren’t being met, and older adults can easily fill those gaps.

Encourage Their Health

Fewer things create more isolation than poor health. When an older adult has an ongoing health problem, they’re much less likely to maintain social contact, often because of discomfort. Additionally, hearing and vision loss can make it challenging and even embarrassing for them to interact with others, causing them to stay away.

One simple way to combat this is to encourage their health in as many ways as possible. Regularly check in on them, asking them how they feel and then paying close attention to any symptoms you notice. Ensure they have a way to get to doctor’s appointments and help them get hearing and vision tests.

If they need adaptive technology, such as a walker, hearing aid, or wheelchair, do everything in your power to provide this for them.

Encouraging exercise can also give them enormous benefits. Allison Miller notes:

Research shows multiple benefits of increased physical activity for older adults. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed older adults’ physical activity longitudinally over 18 years (Stessman, Hammerman-Rozenberg, Cohen, Ein-Mor, & Jacobs, 2009).

The research showed that older adults who exercise not only have an increased life span but also experienced a decrease in falls, fractures, and joint and musculoskeletal pain –

(Stessman et al., 2009). In addition, research shows that balance training decreases fall occurrences (Sherrington et al., 2008). Stessman et al.’s (2009) research also demonstrated that as little as 4 hours per week is as effective as more intensive and time-consuming exercise.

By nurturing their health, you can prevent loneliness.

Stay In Touch With Neighbors

Neighbors can be a helpful safety net for seniors. They can keep an eye out for any unexpected problems, check in on the person, and even help with simple household chores. Additionally, the neighbors can help get the senior involved in the community, which can be especially helpful if you live some distance away.

Connecting the senior with the those around them can put extra eyes on them in case something goes wrong.


Getting older can be difficult, especially if you’re alone. Loneliness and isolation can create health problems, a sense of purposelessness, depression, and a host of other issues. It’s something to be taken seriously.

Thankfully, there are actions that can be taken to ensure the seniors in your life don’t experience those things. These actions don’t need to be complicated or labor intensive. They simply require some thought and intention.

Betty Friedan said, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

We wholeheartedly agree.

A while back, we published a post about Seniors and Sleep detailing the adverse effects of not getting enough sleep and the sleep problems seniors face. Today, we bring you another look into seniors and sleep, with an article from Candace Osmond. This page details sleep problems and solutions. See below for an excerpt.

When you’re struggling to drop off, or if you’re battling the demands of work and home life, you can find yourself wondering how much sleep you can get away with. Is it ok to have just four or five hours or must you get a solid eight or nine hours every night?

If you’re suffering from insomnia, or just the demands of a newborn baby, you may be wondering – how much sleep do you need?

No matter what your circumstances, we’ve answered that question and given you all the information and facts you need to make sure you get the right amount of sleep every night.

For more information about sleep, read the full article here.

Freelance Contribution by Jason Lewis

It’s no secret that older people suffer with health issues more often than their 30-something counterparts. But what is surprising is the fact that animals can help with many of the most common ailments of the 65+ crowd.


  1. Depression


Depression is depressingly common among senior citizens. Mental Health America points out that while depression is not a natural part of aging, seniors are at risk because of other factors that are. Sadly, depression is often undiagnosed in the elderly as it routinely co-occurs with the loss of a loved one and chronic health conditions, which are more common with age.


While having a dog is not a guaranteed cure for depression, there is mounting evidence to suggest that pets do relieve life’s lamentations. For one, having a dog or cat is a soothing presence from a living being that offers unconditional love and acceptance. Taking care of an animal provides a distraction and offers seniors the chance to feel needed once again.


  1. Obesity


Obesity is a major concern throughout the United States, and especially in the elderly who may not have the physical abilities required to properly exercise or the financial means to provide for themselves an array of healthy and nutritious meals. According to Comfort Keepers, obesity can also exacerbate physical disabilities, affect joint, and cause problems with mobility.


There is no doubt that people who own a pet are more active. Between walks and fetch sessions in the backyard, pets keep people on their toes. For seniors who have not yet lost their mobility but are struggling with weight concerns, a dog can encourage regular treks to the dog park or dog-friendly walking trail for a bit of sunshine, exercise, and fresh air. Scout out the one nearest to you by using a site like, which lists dog parks by city. Here are a few examples: San Jose, Portland, Knoxville, Madison, Indianapolis, Albuquerque, Miami, Calgary, Raleigh and Saint Paul.


  1. Mobility issues


There are numerous factors that affect the senior’s ability to maneuver themselves in- and outdoors. According to the National Institutes of Health, mobility issues often stem from illness-related immobility, such as being admitted into the hospital for an extended period.


Dogs and cats will help seniors stay active, which will not only promote weight loss but long walks can also help strengthen lower extremities and improve overall balance and coordination. Furthermore, owning a pet can help improve a senior’s heart rate and blood pressure, reducing his or her chances of experiencing dizziness upon standing.


  1. Cognitive impairment


Up to 20% of adults age 65 and older present with symptoms that indicate mild cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment is that which affects memory or other thinking skills. Its causes are not completely understood but risk factors are similar as those for dementia: family history of Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and advancing age.


Dogs force a routine, which is a good thing for people with early dementia or other cognitive issues. According to US News & World Report, the “routine of caring for pet give structure and purpose to daily life.”


  1. Physical injuries


Falling is one of the most common physical injuries among the elderly population. Many older people have spatial issues that make navigating obstacles difficult. Walking up stairs or avoiding low-lying furniture can become a real problem. Sadly, fewer than half of older patients admit to their healthcare providers when they have an accident. Ostensibly, this is due to fear of losing their independence or feelings of inadequacy related to their frail physical state.


Having a dog or cat won’t prevent injuries, but it can speed the recovery process and help an injured senior manage pain. Experts have long noted the correlation between humans and pets and overall health and wellbeing. Animal Assisted Therapy is used all over the world to help with issues such as fibromyalgia and chronic pain.


Seniors should consider their health, financial abilities to provide food and veterinary care, and breed before taking the plunge into pet ownership. Dogs and cats are a lifelong commitment but one that, especially for seniors, can improve the quality of that life and encourage healthy habits.

Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter

Childhood is a carefree time, during which the parents make sure their little ones are happy, healthy, and content. However, as the years go by, the roles get switched, and it is now the grown up children who have to ensure their elderly parents’ or grandparents’ welfare. It’s estimated that by 2029, there will more than 1 million people aged 65 or over residing in South Carolina. Watching your parents and grandparents age and their health and mental capacity decline is a difficult thing for any child or grandchild to witness, but it’s even harder to make the decision to withdraw them from the place they’ve called home for decades, to  put it on the market and choose a high rated nursing home for them to move into.

Making the decision

The annual cost of a private room in a nursing home in the US is $92,378 which is a big expense for anyone, so making the decision to move a relative to one is a big decision to make; both financially and emotionally.

It can be extremely difficult to admit to yourself that your relative is no longer the person they once were and that they don’t have the mental capacity to stay in their own home and look after themselves as they once could. When you’ve made the decision you may feel guilty and a sense of grief knowing the changes that are to come to both you and your loved one. However, it’s important to recognise that you’ve made the best decision for your relative and that their new home will provide around the clock care and amenities which they don’t have in their own home.

Selling up

You’ll likely need to sell your relative’s home to fund the costly sum of a care home. If you’re looking for a quick house sale so that you can arrange for your relative to be placed into care sooner rather than later, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process.

If you’re not comfortable leaving your relative in their own home during the selling process, then it’s advisable they move in with you temporarily. This will allow you to get their house in top condition ready for any possible viewings. It’s important that the house is clean, tidy and inviting, so be sure to repair any damaged areas, remove any clutter and personal items and give the property some curb appeal by giving the front yard a tidy and the front door a lick of paint.

Choosing the right home

When moving your loved one into a care home, you want to ensure that they will receive the best quality care and attention and that all their needs will be met, day and night. Therefore, it’s vital you take the time to research any potential care home you are considering selecting. A good care home won’t mind you asking lots of questions, visiting multiple times and speaking to existing residents and their family to discuss their experiences and feelings of the home.

It’s a hard decision to make to sell a relative’s home and to move them to a care home but deep down you’ll know when the time is right and that it’s the best thing to do.

Guest Post by Karen Weeks

Moving into a new home can be a very stressful experience, especially if you’ve lived in one location for any length of time. Relocating an elderly relative into a more suitable home presents another layer of stress, for you, and them. As we get older we tend to settle down in one location for years, and continue to acquire belongings. Downsizing on its own can be difficult, but that’s not all that will change for them. Their familiarity in their home will be gone, and they’ll need to start doing even their daily tasks in a different way. If ever possible, making it a slow process will help reduce the stress for everyone, and being organized ahead of time will make it go much smoother.

If everything goes well, you’ll be able to get a gradual jump on this process. Try gathering loved ones together and have a casual conversation about the idea of moving into a home. Don’t overwhelm them. If they haven’t thought about moving into an assisted living facility, it may be an unwelcome surprise. Even if they have considered it, it is still a very big step, so be sure to focus on all of the positives so they’re comfortable with the idea.

Once you’ve had a conversation with them, help them organize everything with some helpful checklists. Discuss what kinds of amenities and features that they would like to have in their new home. Maybe they look forward to someone else cooking for them three times a day, or even helping keep their medications organized. Even if it’s something more frivolous like a pool to swim in, or a space to garden, no matter what it is, write it down.

Here are a few ideas of facility features to help with conversation:

  • If they’re active, find out if they would like a fitness center, or even outdoor space to walk in.
  • Enjoy cooking? See if the rooms are like apartments with small kitchens, or if they are just rooms to stay in.
  • Are they social? See if having a roommate at the facility is something they would like, or if they would prefer to be in a space by themselves.

After you find out what they would like to have in their new home, start a checklist of all the necessities the facility must have. A lot of places have standard features, like community rooms and dining halls, but not all of them are suited for handling some medical needs. Be sure to address these thoroughly.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Do they have a medical condition? The staff and facility should be capable of handling it. It’s important to know that your loved one will be taken care of if anything comes up.
  • Do they need assistance with daily tasks? Maybe they can’t do something like open a lid on a jar, or hold a pencil to write, is someone there to help?
  • Will they need transportation doctor’s appointments, or even just going to the grocery store?

Gather a list of potential future homes together, and start scheduling appointments for tours. Accompany them on the tour, help them ask questions and take notes along the way. They are going to be overwhelmed at first, and could even be excited when they tour a place, which can easily result in forgetting to ask all the questions. Not only do you want them to be happy with where they live, but you want to feel good about it as well.

The next step is to start the decluttering and downsizing process. Going through years of accumulated items can seem daunting, but when you break down the process into a few steps, and know what to keep and get rid of, it will go much smoother.

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  • Go room by room, and start small. Focusing attention in one space at a time, rather than an entire house, can make it a little easier to go through.
  • Try to take it slow and start by asking yourself questions like “Do I need it or want it?”, “Do I use this item often?”. Be sure to assess what is most important about each item. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of cherished belongings, so if something incites a lot of emotion, slow it down and come back to it later.
  • Clear out items that will not be needed. Some places supply furniture like beds and side tables, but some do not. Be sure to hold onto items that will be making the move with them.
  • Plan to hire movers for the big day. Movers can take a lot of the stress out of the equation. Not only will they make the move itself less physically demanding, but they can make it less emotional. Allowing someone else to come in for the heavy-lifting gives your loved one a chance to part with what has been so familiar for so long, and an opportunity to start their new life with a fresh outlook.

Moving into an assisted living home is a lot of work, but staying organized and taking it as slow as possible will will help ease this stressful experience. Knowing what to do and what to ask will make everyone involved more confident in the move.

Freelance Contribution from Nick Johns

The corruption of Big Pharma are well known. But these facts demonstrate just how insidious their influence is.

  • In the first quarter of 2017 alone, the pharmaceutical and health products industry spent a total of $78 million in lobbying, a $10 million increase from the same time period in 2016.
  • The 21st Century Cures Act loosened regulation of the approval process for drugs and medical devices. Critics of the bill including Public Health Citizen’s Research Group believe the Cures Act will “endanger public safety” because it weakens FDA standards.
  • Pradaxa Manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim has faced thousands of lawsuits because of the internal bleeding side effects and reached a $650 million settlement in 2014 to resolve roughly 4,000 claims.
  • Larger companies have employed “Pay-for-Delay” agreements, offering patent settlements to generic drug manufacturers in order to delay or block the release of lower-cost, generic versions of medicine.
  • The Prescription Drug User Fee Act passed in 1992 requires the FDA to answer drug applications within 10 months of receiving them. It has been argued that the shortened timeframe can negatively impact drug safety.

For more Big Pharma facts, read an article on the 21st Century Cures Act (how lobbying dollars mean more than patient safety), and an article on one pharmaceutical company’s major contribution to the opioid epidemic.

Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter


Accepting that our parents and grandparents are no longer as astute as they once were is a painful process. However, no matter how difficult this may be, it is our responsibility as their children and grandchildren to take care of them as they grow older. It is also our responsibility to protect their legal interests.

Some seniors are still in perfect health but others are not so lucky. In fact, one in eight people over 65 have dementia. According to a 2014 estimate, approximately 5.2 million people in America live with Alzheimer’s disease. This cognitive impairment affects memory and communication and it can be a painful ordeal for those who are taking care of parents or grandparents with this condition.

The Best Care Possible

For individuals with relatives who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the best care possible is desired. Obtaining nursing home information and learning the rights of your parents and grandparents is a must. Nursing home abuse is rampant and it is something that every family should know more about before sending an elderly relative into the unknown.

Some seniors experience symptoms such as malnutrition, bed sores, pressure ulcers, bruising, hip fractures, physical and sexual abuse, dehydration, and general abuse while living in a nursing facility. This is something that every son or daughter should keep in mind since a third of families in America have an elderly relative who had to endure this kind of abuse. As one can imagine, elderly Americans who have dementia are some of the most vulnerable residents in nursing homes.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is basically a set of symptoms that happen due to disease or injury. It is typically caused by brain damage, Hungtington’s disease, or stroke.

Symptoms such as subtle short-term memory changes i.e. forgetting what they ate for breakfast, difficulty in understanding conversations or not knowing the right word to use, and disinterest in hobbies and activities they used to love are some of the early signs of the condition. Those with dementia also have difficulty accomplishing tasks that require planning and concentration. Some even have periods of mental confusion.

It must be noted that the symptoms mentioned above usually show up before an official diagnosis. However, experts remind family members not to jump to conclusions until a doctor has seen the patient. If you suspect that your parent or grandparent is showing early signs of dementia, it is best to visit a physician immediately. A General Practitioner (GP) with an expertise in memory problems will be able to rule out other possible conditions that can cause the problems mentioned above.

Talking to a Loved One with Signs of Dementia

Talking to your parent or grandparent who might have a dementia diagnosis can be challenging. This is because most people who have this condition will either be confused or in denial of what is going on.

Experts note that you can talk to your elderly family member about the symptoms and whether he or she have noticed it.

If the diagnosis is dementia, make sure that you tell your parent that knowing what it is will help you and the whole family in taking the right steps towards managing the symptoms.

Legal Planning

Early diagnosis can help you and your parent or grandparent prepare for the future. Legal planning for those with Alzheimer’s can be empowering because this means that the one diagnosed with the condition knows that his or her wishes will be met. Legal planning involves power of attorney for healthcare, durable power of attorney for properties and finances, among other legal concerns.