11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. A flycatcher first glimpsed in 1997 and then collected in 2012 has been confirmed as a new bird species. (Learn more at Futurity) 2. Remarriage is on the rise for Americans ages 55 and older. (Learn more at Pew Research Center) >> Ageless Hollywood Celebs — No Way They’re 70-Plus! 3. A British man lived with a tapeworm moving around in his brain for four years. (Learn more at Mashable) 4. A spoon developed …

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 …

Can a Take-Home Test Reveal Early Alzheimer’s?

Could a 15-minute test you take with pen and paper provide an early warning of Alzheimer’s or other cognitive problems? Researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center say the simple 22-question test, called the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination, or SAGE, can’t diagnose Alzheimer’s, but it can reveal cognitive impairments at an early, more treatable stage. (To take the test, click here to download.) These impairments “could be related to many conditions like medications, ministrokes, dementia or sleep apnea to …

Caregivers: Be on the Alert for Medication Side Effects

Her hands shaking uncontrollably, suddenly one day my Mom’s food was falling off the fork before she could get it to her mouth. In a nursing facility for rehabilitation after spinal surgery and a heart attack, Mom had been moved from the independent to the “feeding” dining room (without a word to me). The doctor in the nursing facility dismissed my concern, saying it’s common and it was just “a little bit of Parkinsonism and people get it when they …

A Caregiver’s Tips for Managing Medications

AARP and the United Hospital Fund recently released a new study, Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care, focusing on the types of tasks we family caregivers are performing, and the results are clear: caregiving isn’t what it used to be. Almost half of us (46%) are now performing medical/nursing tasks such as wound care, medication management, operating medical equipment and more. These tasks were once relegated to hospital and nursing facility care, and go far beyond personal care …