Anxiety screening recommended for all adults under 65
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an advisory group, is recommending for the first time that doctors screen all adult patients under 65 for anxiety. Americans have been reporting outsize anxiety levels in response to stressors including inflation, crime rates, fear of illness and loss of loved ones from Covid-19. While the panel’s recommendations are not compulsory, they heavily influence the standard of care among primary care physicians. About a quarter of men and about 40 percent of women in the U.S. face an anxiety disorder in their lifetimes.
Melatonin use has jumped, causing concern
The use of melatonin supplements to improve sleep has jumped 425% in the past two decades, with the number of people taking large amounts (more than 5 milligrams per day) at an all time high, according to a study published in JAMA.
As with other supplements, melatonin is not regulated to the same standards as prescription drugs so that the amount of melatonin in a given pill can be much higher than the label shows. When taken in small doses for the short term, it’s considered safe but high amounts for long periods can cause side effects such as nausea, dizziness, headaches and anxiety.
Evidence suggests the supplements may help some people fall asleep faster, but it has minimal effect on sleeping throughout the night.
A self-administered test for memory loss
Harvard Health Publishing reports that there is now a cognitive test to screen for memory loss that individuals can self-administer. The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) has compared favorably to clinician-administered tests such as the Mini-Mental State Examination and neuropsychological testing. You can download the SAGE test at https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/brain-spine-neuro/memory-disorders/sage. As it says on the website, take the answer sheet to your doctor so they can score it and speak with about the results.
Falls Free Check-Up
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls among older adults are a significant public health challenge. Not only are there about 1 million hospitalizations each year due to falls but 1 in 10 older adults experience a fall that results in a broken bone or other injury. To curb the trend, the CDC Foundation has launched a 5-year project that includes an educational component regarding prevention; a resource guide to reduce the likelihood of a fall and fall injury and an easy-to-use fall risk screening tool for older adults. Designed to be completed by an older adult or a caregiver, the assessment only takes a few minutes to complete, and the answers help the user better understand their risk for a fall. Go to: https://ncoa.org/age-well-planner/assessment/falls-free-checkup.