Do You Have Serious Brain Fog and Good-for-Nothing Memory, Too??!

Man, as soon as perimenopause creeps in, everything goes to the crapper, eh ladies??!!  (Sorry.  That’s my Canadian accent coming out.)  My memory and concentration are about as useless as a half-eaten donut!!

I used to have such a great memory.  I was a champion public speaker since grade 3.  I could memorize a 4 minute speech in a few hours.  I never thought anything of it.  Piece of cake!

I was also very active in the musical theatre at school.  I would be able to memorize lines and songs without any trouble.  No problem!

AND, I used to be able to multi-task like a Boss.  I used to easily prepare a sit-down roast dinner with all the trimmings for 22 family members without breaking a sweat.   I’d have the gravy bubbling, the potatoes being mashed, the roast getting carved, the rolls getting warmed, the candles being lit, the wine getting poured, all the serving dishes and platters getting filled and to the table, and I’d never miss a beat in my conversation with the family.  Now, I can’t remember why I was about to boil that pot of water, or what I was on my way downstairs to get, or the names of people I have worked with for years, or………..sorry……….what was I saying??

Holy crap!  I sit in front of my laptop some days and just stare at it, not knowing what I need to do to begin.  What’s my password, again??  How do I open my Facebook page??  What was I about to look up??  Where the hell did I leave my F-ing tea??

I can’t spit out names of singers or actors I hear and see, and I sure as hell can’t remember all 3 of those damn things I needed to buy at the grocery store.  I sat in my car in the Walmart parking lot for 20 minutes one day going over my shopping list and figuring out my game plan in the store.  I just couldn’t wrap my brain around exactly what I needed to get done.

Since I’m aware of and have accepted my new(ish) memory issues, I have taken to writing everything down.  I have actually done this for many years anyway, but for different reasons.  I used to do it as a way to get everything out of my head and onto a piece of paper.  It does wonders for clearing the clutter in my wee little brain.  I would write down everything from what I needed to accomplish in a week or that day, to what I needed to pick up at the grocery store when I was there next.

 

My new, updated task, however, is to remember to bring the damn list to the grocery store with me!!  Few things are as frustrating as taking the time to go through the cupboards and fridge in order to compile a damn fine grocery list, only to leave the freakin’ thing on the kitchen counter.  Then I need to use my dilapidated memory at the grocery store to remember what was on the list.  Of course, I only ever come home with less than half the things I needed.  And I also come home with things I just bought the week before.  Do you know how many jars of relish I have???  I can never remember if I was just THINKING about buying it, or if I actually DID buy it.

 

My poor memory and brain fog have certainly been creeping up on me over the last number of years, but there has definitely been a sharp performance decline since perimenopause really grabbed a hold of me about a year ago.

So what the heck is going on? 

And is this a permanent thing?  Should I be worried?  Is it time for me to get a collar in case I go missing and don’t know who I am or where I live??  No, really!?!

My research has taught me that during perimenopause and menopause, fluctuating levels of estrogen cause symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, depression and mood swings.  Yay for hormones!!!  That’s just freakin’ awesome!!!  Sooo excited!!

In case that’s not enough amazing news, 60% of women report that their short-term memory is not as good as it was pre-menopausal, too.  What an amazing and fun time in a woman’s life!!!  Unfortunately, it’s not too entertaining for the loved ones in our lives, either.  Sorry, people.

Sleep disturbances caused by menopause symptoms appear to contribute to brain fog and memory loss, too.  But the changing levels of estrogen is thought to also have an effect on the brain, because estrogen contributes to language skills, attention, mood, memory, and other brain functions.

There has also been a correlation found with the number and severity of daily hot-flashes and memory loss.  Women with a moderate to severe number of daily hot flashes (19 or greater……19 or greater???  How are those women still alive???  How are their partners still functioning???), experienced a higher degree of short term memory loss and brain fog than women who experienced less hot flashes per day.  There have not been conclusive findings as to why that is.

However, American researchers said their findings should provide relief for many women because they also concluded that the impairment is only temporary.  Their studies have found that the amount of learning improved back to premenopausal levels during the postmenopausal stage.

Well, isn’t that just great news.  In the meantime, I have no idea where I was going in my car yesterday, and I can still multi-task just about as well as a drunken Billy goat.

What can we do to help our Brain Fog and Short-Term Memory Loss?

  1.  Good Sleep.  As with so many other studies we have read that are related to numerous health issues, a good night’s sleep helps with several bodily and cognitive functions.  It’s not always easy with all the night sweats we’ve got goin’ on, but try to keep a regular sleep schedule and get about 7.5 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Two glasses of red wine a week (bahahahahaha) may help keep memory loss at bay and keep your brain in tip-top shape. Why? Red wine is packed with resveratrol, which may keep free radicals from damaging brain cells. Be careful not to overindulge, though.  (But we never overindulge in wine drinking, do we ladies??  *wink, wink*).    More than two glasses of red wine per week have a reverse effect or put you at risk for cancer and other diseases.  Well, shit!!  If you’re not a drinker, turmeric, an essential ingredient in curry, is also packed with antioxidants.
  3. A Healthy Diet.  Again, as with all other aspects of our lives, a healthy diet is essential.  Omega-3 fatty acids like those found in cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel, and dark leafy greens can enhance learning and memory.
  4. Keep Stress in Check.  Even non-menopausal women need to be wary of how over-secretion of stress hormones can negatively affect memory.  the frustrations of menopause and the life events that surround it (children leaving home, parents aging…) can be a very stressful time for a woman. I know it’s difficult, ladies, but we need to take care of ourselves during this time.

Relax.  Pamper.  Enjoy.  Repeat.

Try some relaxing techniques like yoga or meditation.  Go for a pampering massage or take time for a long bath.  Enjoy life and focus on all the wonderful things it has to offer.

And most of all, Ladies, just keep laughing.  It helps to keep us young.  And to keep everyone else guessing.

Kathleen Bolton

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