Are parents responsible for adult children's medical debts? Should people squeeze in appointments and expensive procedures before year's end because of changes that might come with the GOP tax bill? Should consumers pay a broker to help them enroll in a plan? Here are the answers to some recent questions from readers.

Q: My 25-year-old brother died in April, and now hospitals are calling my parents to cover his bills. He was covered under my parents' employer-sponsored plan, but are they liable for his medical debt?

In Caguas, south of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jared Haley is fighting a daily battle at C-Axis, the medical device manufacturer where he's the general manager. The power has been out at his plant for nearly three months, since Hurricane Irma.

Operating on emergency generators, the plant restarted operations last month and, Haley says, is delivering all its work on schedule. But he's not happy now with the plant's condition. Walking into his factory, he laments, "This shop used to look like a doctor's office."

If you read a newspaper on Sunday, there's a good chance you came across a full-page ad warning of the dangers of smoking.

The stark messages with black text on an otherwise blank page tell readers that cigarettes kill 1,200 Americans every day. The same messages start to run Monday evening on prime time television.

Angelia Soloman watched out the window of her ranch house in northeast Houston as the floodwaters rose up to the windowsills.

She huddled inside with her three adopted children (ages 12 to 15), a nephew and her 68-year-old mother. "They were looking and crying, like, 'We're gonna lose everything,' " said Soloman. "And I'm like, 'No, it gonna be OK.' "

When the water began rushing under the front door, filling up the house like a bathtub, Soloman led her family outside, and plunged into a river of water up to her chest.

If you're losing sleep over the blue light coming from your phone, there's an app for that.

In fact, there are now lots of apps that promise to improve sleep by filtering out the blue light produced by phones, tablets, computers and even televisions.

But how well do these apps work?

There haven't been any big studies to answer that question. So I phoned a couple of scientists who study the link between blue light exposure and sleep.

As the months grow colder and darker, many people find themselves somewhat sadder and even depressed.

Bright light is sometimes used to help treat the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Researchers are now testing light therapy to see if it also can help treat depression that's part of bipolar disorder.

In April this year, Katie Herzog checked into a Boston teaching hospital for what turned out to be a nine-hour-long back surgery.

The 68-year-old consulting firm president left the hospital with a prescription for Dilaudid, an opioid used to treat severe pain, and instructions to take two pills every four hours as needed. Herzog took close to the full dose for about two weeks.

As a lifelong racket-sports fanatic, I've dealt with shoulder pain for decades, treating it with bags of frozen peas, physical therapy, cortisone shots and even experimental treatments like platelet-rich plasma. Eventually, however, the soreness prevented me from handling daily-living tasks like pulling a bottle of olive oil off the top shelf of my kitchen or reaching to the back seat of my car to grab my purse. Even low-impact activities such as swimming freestyle hurt a lot. Sleeping also got tougher. After MRI showed two full-thickness rotator-cuff tears, I finally called a surgeon.

When President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, it came with a regulatory change intended to make it easier for people to get care. The declaration allows for doctors to prescribe addiction medicine virtually, without ever seeing the patient in person.

In Indiana, this kind of virtual visit has been legal since early 2017. So I called about a dozen addiction specialists in Indiana to find out how it was going. But no one had heard of doctors using telemedicine for opioid addiction treatment until I ran across Dr. Jay Joshi.

A brain system involved in everything from addiction to autism appears to have evolved differently in people than in great apes, a team reports Thursday in the journal Science.

The system controls the production of dopamine, a chemical messenger that plays a major role in pleasure and rewards.

We'll have a total of just 10 at our Thanksgiving this year, with the biggest absence being that of my mother, who died in March at the age of 92. Our 2-year-old granddaughter and her parents won't be there, either, nor will my nephew and his 6-month-old son, so we'll have no children around to temper the loss. Instead, we'll have to get our yuks from the antics of our daughter's 90-pound dog, Huxley.

I recently hobbled to the drugstore to pick up painkillers after minor outpatient knee surgery, only to discover that the pharmacist hadn't yet filled the prescription. My doctor's order of 90 generic Percocet exceeded the number my insurer would approve, he said. I left a short time later with a bottle containing a smaller number.

When I got home and opened the package to take a pill, I discovered that there were 42 inside.

The roast turkey and pecan pie may be the same as always, but growing numbers of families plan to add a tradition to their Thanksgiving holiday this week: a frank talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.

Paul Malley, president of Aging with Dignity, the agency behind Five Wishes, a popular living will template, says requests for the documents that guide decisions surrounding serious illness and death typically surge starting now.

For years, doctors have asked people about tobacco use and excessive drinking in the hopes that the answers could help lead people to cut down or quit.

But screening alone isn't usually sufficient to change behavior.

As opioid use hits record highs in the U.S., Christiana Care Health System in Delaware is starting to ask people about opioid use — and then go further.

In November 2016, Christiana Care staff started asking patients during routine visits and in the emergency room questions like these:

On a recent weekday afternoon, Ruby Corado let herself into the drop-in center at the homeless shelter she founded for LGBTQ youth to make the rounds with new clients.