11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, wrote about the same characters in an earlier book, which will be published in 2015. (Learn more at AARP) 2. Some common medications might be connected with a higher risk of dementia. (Learn more at AARP) 3. “Light” jogging helps you live longer, while running strenuously might not be better than no exercise at all. (Learn more at Discovery) 4. People over 65 might need a little less sleep than …

A Cure for Hearing Loss?

All you boomers who listened to too much rock ’n’ roll may eventually get back your hearing by popping a pill. Researchers are closing in on a way to reverse sensorineural loss, the most common cause of hearing loss. Just as important, pharmaceutical companies are putting big money into the effort. Garnering the most publicity so far is a clinical trial of an injectable drug backed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. Given that 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss — …

Why Are Some Generic-Drug Prices Soaring?

Inexpensive generic drugs have helped millions of Americans save money on brand-name medication, but lately soaring prices on some longtime generics are prompting investigations into this pricing U-turn by pharmaceutical companies. In addition, a a new AARP drug-pricing report shows retail prices for brand-name prescription drugs continue to increase. The debate over some generic price hikes has spurred the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging to hold a hearing to review pricing on a dozen generics, and the Department …

Time to Let the Sunshine In

By AARP Executive Vice President Debra Whitman, Ph.D. and AARP Director of Health Services Research Leigh Purvis Starting today, AARP members and consumers of all ages will be able to get a better idea of what may be driving their health care provider’s decisions thanks to the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, or Sunshine Act. The Sunshine Act requires drug and medical device manufacturers to publicly report virtually all payments, gifts, and other services provided to health care providers and teaching …

States’ Role in Limiting Inappropriate Use of Antipsychotic Meds in Nursing Homes

As nursing homes have moved away from using physical restraints, there is evidence that some institutions are substituting antipsychotic medications to sedate residents with behavior problems. Why is this a dangerous and inappropriate practice? Inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs by nursing homes exposes elderly vulnerable people to increased risk of falls, delirium, stroke and death. In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general testified before the Senate Aging Committee that antipsychotic drugs were being prescribed in “violation of …

Painkiller Death Rate Highest Among Older Adults

The rate of overdose deaths from powerful painkillers has nearly quadrupled since 1999, but new government figures show that since 2006, the rate of increase has finally slowed — except among older adults. According to a newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the rate of fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers is still highest among those ages 45 to 54, with the fastest increase in deaths over the past decade among those 55 to 64. In 2011, …