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Nervous System Problems (cont.)

Prevention

Follow the prevention guidelines below:

  • Eat a balanced diet. A balanced, low-fat diet with ample sources of vitamins B6, B12, and folate will help protect the nervous system. Make sure that your diet contains lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids. This helps prevent dehydration, which can cause confusion and memory problems.
    • To prevent dehydration during hot weather and exercise, drink 8 to 10 glasses of water, rehydration drinks, or other fluids each day.
    • Drink extra water before, during, and after exercise. Take a container of water or sports drink with you when you exercise, and try to drink at least every 15 to 20 minutes.
    • Use a sports drink, such as Gatorade or Powerade, if you will be exercising for longer than 1 hour.
    • Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and colas, which increase dehydration and can affect sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Talk to your doctor about an exercise plan that will be right for you.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Do not use alcohol or illegal drugs, which can affect functioning long after use.
  • Take care of health conditions that may cause decreased nervous system functioning, such as:
  • Have your hearing or vision tested. When you do not hear or see well, it is hard for your brain to record information.
  • Set priorities, and concentrate on one thing at a time. Older adults have a harder time than younger people giving their attention to more than one activity.
  • Increase your attention span and ability to focus by learning new skills.
  • Keep written notes. Write all your plans on a calendar where you can look at them often.
  • Use a medicine box with spaces for each day. This will help you remember when to take your medicines. Take your medicines exactly as they are prescribed.
  • Decrease your use of nonprescription medicines. Overuse of medicines may be the single biggest cause of nervous system problems in older adults.
  • Develop a positive attitude about your abilities. Reject the notion that nervous system (neurological) functioning declines with age.
  • Protect yourself from head injuries.
  • Prevent falls in your home.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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