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Preventing Confusion

Daily attention to the basic needs of the human body can help prevent medical problems and aid recuperation from illness and hospitalization. Here are some simple tips.

Vision and Hearing

Our senses connect us to the outside world, and are essential to safe navigation. Have annual checkups and use glasses or hearing aids if needed. Keep glasses clean and properly adjusted. It is safest not to walk while wearing multifocal glasses. When you notice trouble with your hearing first ask your health care provider to check for ear wax.

Hydration

The human body is mainly water. All body systems need water to function, and water is essential to removing waste. Unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider, all adults should consume about 8 cups of plain water each day. Many people prefer to take small amounts throughout the day rather than trying to drink an entire 8 ounce cup in one sitting. Start gradually, and try to work up to taking 3 swallows (about ½ cup) every half hour for the first 8 hours of each day. After practicing this for a few days thirst will prompt you to drink. If you notice that you aren't feeling well, the first thing to ask yourself is "am I dehydrated"?

Toileting

Keeping the body well hydrated also involves regular trips to the bathroom. Adults should use the toilet/commode every 2-3 hours. Don't wait until the need is urgent. Make a mental note to check the clock and go on a regular basis. Regular elimination keeps fluid and waste moving and prompts you to get up and move, which is also good for your health.

Mobility

Regular movement helps maintain circulation, strength, balance and stamina. Internal organs work best when we are upright. During the day, older adults should not sit or lay still for longer than 30 minutes at a time. At least stand up, and walk if possible. Develop a habit of moving your joints even when sitting--make circles with your ankles, clench and release your fists, wiggle your toes.

Medicine

Use extreme caution with medicine. Take prescriptions exactly as instructed. Talk with your primary care provider if you notice any problems caused by medication, like nausea or confusion. If you are offered a new prescription ask if it will be safe combined with what you are already taking. Ask if there is anything other than taking medicines that you can do to treat your condition. Discuss costs to be sure that a suggested medicine will fit your budget. There may be less expensive choices or your doctor may have samples to give you. Before taking over-the-counter medications with prescriptions, talk to your primary care provider or pharmacist to check on the safety of combining them. As a precaution, buy all medications through one pharmacy so that the pharmacist can help you monitor safety.

Carry an up-to-date list with you at all times of all medications you take regularly and how much and how often you take them. When you feel out of sorts, if you aren't dehydrated the next question to ask is "am I overmedicated"?