Personal Health and Well-being

Candy Sagon writes about health topics for AARP. She previously was a reporter with the Washington Post and has written numerous articles on food, health and nutrition for national magazines.

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Not getting enough sleep has huge effects on our health — from foggy thinking to heart problems to weight gain — but just how much sleep is considered enough? That’s the question the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) tackled with a panel of scientists who reviewed more than 300 sleep-duration studies and came up with new guidelines, including one for people age 65-plus. “This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a …

Pharmacists Rank Best Over-the-Counter Products

Let’s say you have a cold. Or some nagging heartburn or other minor ailment. Which of the myriad over-the-counter drugs at your drugstore or discount store should you buy for relief? Let’s ask the pharmacist. In fact, let’s ask more than 12,600 pharmacists. That’s what the American Pharmacists Association does each year for its survey of over-the-counter (OTC) products. For the 2015 survey, released Feb. 1, pharmacists across the country were asked to report which nonprescription brand-name products they recommended …

Toilet Paper Is Shrinking. Blame Hand Dryers

No, it’s not just your imagination. Toilet paper squares are surreptitiously shrinking — getting smaller, thinner and/or fewer. The reason it’s hard for you to tell: Companies are increasing the size of the inner cardboard tubes, so the rolls still look the same to consumers. And why are hand dryers to blame? Don’t worry — we’ll get to that. The case of our dwindling toilet paper sheets was explained in an interesting Washington Post column. The old standard size was …

A Little More Salt Is Not So Bad for Us

A little more salt may not be such a bad thing for healthy older adults, a new study finds. Adults age 50-plus have been warned for years not to consume more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily — less than a teaspoon of salt — or they risk all kinds of bad heart-health effects, from high blood pressure to heart failure. But researchers found that pushing the limit a bit, to 2,300 mg, or about a teaspoon of salt, …

Are Older Adults Being Overtreated for Diabetes?

Older patients are not the same as younger patients. You’d think this was obvious, yet doctors often use a one-size-fits-all approach to prescribing treatment that can put their older patients at risk. The latest example of this: another study showing that patients 65 or older with diabetes may be overtreated by doctors who too aggressively try to control blood sugar levels, regardless of their patients’ other health problems. The new study, by Yale researchers, analyzed a decade of data on 1,288 …

Blueberries Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Need to reduce your blood pressure several notches? Eating a cup of blueberries a day could help. That’s the conclusion of a small Florida State University study of postmenopausal women, ages 45 to 65, who ate the equivalent of a cup of blueberries a day for eight weeks. The women not only saw a modest improvement in their blood pressure readings, their arteries also showed improved flexibility, which also can help lower blood pressure. Previous blueberry studies had found similar …