Does Menopause Mean Memory Loss?
Menopause is a term frowned upon by most women. The dreaded series of mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats are also accompanied by even more unwelcome lapses in memory.
Most females between the ages of 45 to 50 have encountered at least some of the effects of menopause. Estrogen, the hormone responsible for the reproductive system of females, fluctuates and causes imbalances in cortisol levels. Because of this hormonal dysregulation, short-term memory loss may occur. In addition, symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats cause further disruption of sleep patterns resulting in insomnia, as well as anxiety and depression. When combined, these conditions contribute to diminished mental capacity and temporary forgetfulness among many middle-aged females going through what is commonly referred to as “the change.”
Does the Risk of Alzheimer’s Increase After Menopause?
While menopause may not cause Alzheimer’s disease in women, symptoms do seem to become prevalent after the decline of estrogen following the onset of menopause. Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), previously referred to as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), is an alternative treatment for those suffering bouts of dementia that occur during the normal menopausal process. Estrogen may also be administered in low doses to decrease other symptoms of moodiness, night sweats and hot flashes.
On the other hand, MHT is not a long-term solution for the normal effects of aging. In fact, continuing MHT after menopause may cause an increased risk for dementia, stroke, heart disease and other conditions. Some studies have shown that the normal effects of menopause do not directly contribute to difficulty with focus or mental capacity. Many other women go through menopause with few symptoms and without seeking treatment. Since each individual reacts differently, before considering any type of therapy, it is important to consult a family physician for further details of any risks or benefits as well as a personalized treatment plan.
Is it Avoidable?
While getting older is inevitable and menopause is an event to be anticipated by practically every female, there are simple steps they may follow to ensure mental capacity remains acute during the unavoidable process. Examples of activities that stimulate brain function and boost mental stamina include reading, writing, learning a different language, playing an instrument or completing crossword puzzles.
Since increased levels of stress may also contribute to dementia and the development of Alzheimer’s disease, incorporating stress-reducing activities into a daily routine is also essential. Yoga and meditation are preferred methods to calm the mind and relieve anxiety, while proper rest, exercise and a balanced diet ensure better health overall.
Although nutrients are still essential, fewer calories are needed after age 50. Older women may also need a vitamin supplement including calcium and vitamin D to promote better bone health, while others may need additional iron in their diets.
Bringing it All Together
While the idea of experiencing “the change” may not bring thoughts of happiness to those in its path, it should not be feared either. By remaining physically active and maintaining emotional stability through stress reduction and healthy eating, women may reduce the occurrence of memory loss commonly experienced during menopause.