— By Gabrielle Wilkosz Whether it’s windstorms, floods or wildfires, Texas endures some of the worst of Mother Nature’s wrath. That’s why it’s vital for the 50+ community, and friends and family, to prepare for unfavorable and even dangerous weather conditions. During the 2017 hurricane season, which runs through November, precautionary measures like assembling a hurricane toolkit, registering with a special needs shelter, and mapping out an evacuation plan can put your mind at ease and possibly save lives. Plan ahead …

— 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 …

— Texans have reason to cheer a significant act of progress out of the legislative session. Late Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 507, which bolsters patient protections against surprise medical billing. Surprise medical billing occurs when an insured person receives out-of-network care (often in emergency care situations, like visits to neighborhood emergency clinics), and later get hit with medical charges that can far exceed what’s covered by the patient’s insurance. The AARP Texas-supported legislation was sponsored by …

— Telemedicine – or telehealth – could soon take firmer hold in Texas under legislation recently sent to the governor that would help patients meet with physicians via smartphone, tablet or computer. Employers and private insurers are already embracing the trend as a means of making healthcare more affordable and convenient, and as a step toward avoiding costly emergency room and doctor’s office visits. The Texas House and Senate approved Senate Bill 1107, which eases some of the state’s restrictions on …

— 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 …

— AARP Texas Director Bob Jackson today praised the Legislature’s final passage of House Bill 3276. Filed by Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, HB 3276 would help protect consumers from surprise medical bills at freestanding emergency rooms. Earlier today, the Texas Senate approved the measure, sending it to the governor’s desk.  Jackson said: “Patients often rush to the nearest emergency room and unknowingly get treatment not covered by their insurance network. Because many freestanding emergency rooms in Texas do not have contracts …

— 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 …