4 States

— To help loved ones stranded by Hurricane Harvey, federal health officials have relaxed rules dealing with how hospitals and medical providers share certain information about patients. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has given hospitals and medical providers permission to let family members know if their loved one is a patient at their facility and to talk with them about the individual’s condition and care needs. The relaxation of the HIPAA privacy rules enables easy communication between …

— The transition from hospital to home just got easier for patients and family caregivers under a new state law. The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act took effect May 26, immediately after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed it into law. The legislation allows every hospital patient to designate a family caregiver. It requires the hospital to take reasonable steps to notify the caregiver about discharge plans and to show the caregiver how to perform follow-up medical tasks. At least 36 …

— By Laura Tillman Marie-Pierre Stien of Houston is a creative person fond of trying new things. A school administrator, she writes flash fiction—stories of less than 500 words—and she’s working on illustrations she will give away to people. It’s not surprising that Stien, 54, isn’t intimidated by social media. She uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for her artistic endeavors and for advocacy and outreach. Stien is taking on a relatively new online medium—the podcast—produced by AARP in Houston. The online …

— Texas ranks 35th when it comes to meeting the long-term care needs of older residents and people with disabilities, and AARP warns more must be done, at an accelerated pace, to meet changing demographic demands. Specific areas of concern in Texas include the percent of high-risk nursing home residents with pressure sores, as well as the percent of nursing home residents who are inappropriately receiving an antipsychotic medication. This, according to a new, comprehensive state-by-state Scorecard from AARP with support …

— ** High-Priority Nursing Home Quality Legislation Approved ** Older Texans have cause to celebrate several major accomplishments of the 2017 Texas regular legislative session. In the final hours of the session, lawmakers approved a top priority for AARP Texas – major nursing home quality reforms that seek to hold operators of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities more accountable when they have been found to have done harm to their residents. This session, Texas lawmakers also approved numerous AARP-backed …

— Texas lawmakers today finalized a measure that gives important new rights to millions of unpaid family caregivers. A priority for AARP, House Bill 2425 (companion to Senate Bill 1417) would help Texans when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home. The legislation goes next to the governor’s desk. The measure would ensure hospital patients’ designated family caregivers are offered instruction in providing needed care at home. The measure is vital because unpaid family caregivers often …

— In Texas alone, there are more than 3.4 million unpaid family caregivers, many of whom provide complex medical and nursing tasks for their loved ones, and sometimes without adequate explanation or training. It’s not unusual for their tasks to include managing multiple medications, providing wound care, overseeing special diets, and operating high-tech medical equipment and monitors. Glenn Weaver of Flower Mound has been the caregiver for his wife, Aggie, since 1997, when she had two strokes that left her without …

— With the scheduled end of the 2017 Texas legislative session approaching, AARP continues to fight for passage of several bills that aim to improve nursing home quality, ease the stress of family caregivers, protect older Texans from financial exploitation, and help consumers avoid and respond to surprise medical charges. Here’s a brief overview of some of the issues the AARP Texas team is working on at the state Capitol: Nursing Home Quality and Safety: Texans deserve quality care that ensures …

— Alicia Buescher, 64, of Fort Worth has been a nurse practitioner for over 30 years. She’s had a passion for nursing since the age of 16 when she volunteered at a local children’s hospital. “Not everybody knows what they want to do, but I did,” she said. Alicia’s mother-in-law lives in Columbus, a small town between Houston and Austin. On the way to visit her recently, Alicia couldn’t help but notice the lack of medical resources. “The people in these …

— The Texas Senate took a pivotal step toward improving the quality of care in Texas nursing facilities on Wednesday by unanimously approving Senate Bill 932, which seeks to hold nursing home operators accountable for harming residents. Senate Bill 932 — sponsored by Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) — was approved on a 31-0 vote and now heads to the Texas House of Representatives. The bill revises the state’s “Right to Correct” law to make it more difficult for serious violations of …