Menopause does not mean you are sentenced to dementia. Keeping the brain healthy during menopause and into old age does not have to be difficult. These tips can help keep those grey cells functioning properly for years to come.
Many of us will notice that our brains’ function is a little different compared to when we were younger. It might be that you cannot recall the name of senior year high school classmates, or that you know you put that important paper away for safe keeping only now you cannot find it.
Our brains tend to react to stress just as our bodies do and since menopause is a time of great stress for some women, small memory lapses cause fear of dementia. But trying to locate your car keys on a busy morning is not an automatic sign that Alzheimer’s is part of your future.
As we get older, our brains have much more information to retrieve. Some items stored away have become less important over the years and we are usually focused on the information we need to live today. But who has not chastised themselves, often unfairly, for forgetting a name or whether we turned off the coffee pot? To better understand just what is happening to your brain, your doctor can evaluate any changes you have noticed to determine the severity of your memory loss.
Fuzzy thinking is a common symptom during menopause. But think of how busy you are during this time of your life; raising children, caring for elderly parents, working, and the many other things you are responsible for leave you stressed. The brain just does not work as well under stress. This is not to say that everyone had carefree younger years, but the stressors tend to add up as we get older. Add our society’s obsession with youth, and the anxiety levels increase.
For most of us, fighting memory loss requires taking stock of what is going on in our lives and looking for ways to improve our mental health. We look after our bodies and our minds need the same care and attention. The following tips can help to keep your brain in top condition:
*Eat a balanced diet and include Omega-3s which are found in salmon, and vitamin D which is thought to improve the overall immune system and brain cell health
*Exercise helps to keep the entire body in good health and helps the brain to function properly
*Get adequate amounts of sleep to help the brain recharge every night
*Reduce stress which is not always easy but the brain functions better when not under stress; you may have to deal with caring for parents, but find ways to lessen the burden on yourself; say no to events and engagements you really have no interest in
*Drink no more than one or two drinks per day as excessive alcohol consumption interferes with brain function
*Avoid isolation by keeping social contacts and making new ones – many people over 30 believe they have all the social contacts they need, but look for ways to meet new people to replace those that move out of your life – stay involved in life
*Try new things, even simple things, to stimulate the brain; learning a new language or hobby, or pick up a new computer skill or take up playing bridge
*Reading is great for brain power; try mixing it up a little – if you normally read only non-fiction try a fiction novel or if you read mysteries try a chick lit book – the change of pace will expand the way your brain processes information
*Doing crosswords, Sudoku puzzles or any similar word and number games keep your brain active; or look for the latest hand-held electronic gadgets with memory exercizes; these can be done almost anywhere such as when you are waiting at the doctor’s office
We can keep our brains healthy for life. Menopause brings on many challenges as our bodies change and we may think that our minds are not what they used to be. Talk to your doctor to understand what signs indicate dementia and to rule out any possible diagnosis. Memory lapses do not have to mean losing our minds and menopause does not mean we will lose our treasured memories and ability to live long and fulfilling lives.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You