You have two important things to do today.
You can’t remember the first one. But you know that the second is that you need to start writing things down.
What was her name again? What were you saying? When is your appointment this afternoon? And where is your sodding phone?
Being forgetful can be so frustrating. But don’t worry, you are not the only woman dealing with this.
Why do we get memory loss in the perimenopause? Well, general brain fog and trouble remembering recently-learned information are very common at this time. Sixty percent of women going through the change report that their memory is not as good as it used to be.
This happens as your oestrogen levels fluctuate – this hormone helps us with language skills, attention, mood, memory, and other important brain processes.
And if you’re having a lot of hot flushes, you might find your verbal memory (the recollection of words) is hit and miss. Night sweats can also disturb your sleep, making it harder for you to focus and recall the next day.
The good news is that researchers have found that memory and learning ability tend to return after the menopause.
In the meantime, here are some tricks to take you from forgetful to feeling fabulous.
WORKING OUT WORKS
Combine physical and mental workouts to get your mind in shape.
Regularly exercising your body promotes a rich blood flow around your brain. This keeps your brain cells tip top and lessen the likelihood of memory lapses.
Work out your grey matter in another way by taking up mind games like sudoku and crosswords. Or wake up your brain by learning a new skill or hobby. Anything that keeps you mentally active and making new neural pathways will improve your memory.
Trot on the treadmill while answering questions on a TV quiz show – and you’re winning!
NOURISH YOUR NOODLE
What you eat and drink has an impact on your ability to recall information.
Fantastic fatty fish like salmon, tuna, herring and sardines are crammed with brain-boosting Omega 3. Fish also has high levels of memory-promoting vitamin B, as does beef, liver, chicken, eggs, dairy products and fortified cereals. Walnuts and chia seeds also cut through brain fog. Flaxseed, soybean and canola and olive oils will also help to keep your cogs turning, as do healthy fats in foods like avocados.
Drink more water and less alcohol to keep your brain hydrated and healthy.
If you are unsure how to balance your diet for the best, or add in beneficial supplements, talk to a registered dietician.
ADJUST AND ADD APPS
Don’t doggedly expect yourself to remember things if you’re feeling hazy.
Instead of getting frustrated by doing what you’ve always done, take the pressure off by keeping a ‘to do’ list or putting reminders in your phone. And instead of desperately searching for answers in your brain, make use of our good friend Google.
SLEEP IT OFF
If you are having difficulty sleeping, your powers of recall in the day will be diminished.
Give your mind a fighting chance to deal with all these hormonal changes by working on the quality and quantity of shut-eye in your bedroom. Take a look at our top tips on dealing with sleep problems and put some into action.
REMEMBER TO SEE YOUR GP
If your memory slips go from annoying to really worrying, and start to interfere with your quality of life, then it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.
They can check for underlying neurological issues and/or see if treatments like HRT that might make things easier for you. Just don’t forget to order your prescription...
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
It can be quite worrying when someone you know well and think of as sharp starts to repeat themselves or forget important information. It’s not her fault and there are plenty of ways you can help her stay on top when her menopausal brain’s letting the side down.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
In terms of self-care, we’ve recommended they drink plenty of water throughout the day and switches off devices a couple of hours before bed to get a decent night’s sleep. They may also find using apps to remind themselves of important things helps too.
It can be frustrating when you don’t get a clear answer to what you think is a simple question. But imagine the frustration of not being able to find the answer because your short-term memory seems to have left the building?
Give them time and don’t make it a big deal if they can’t give you the answer right away. Brushing over it will stop them from feeling flustered and means they'll probably know what they want to say quicker.
CREATE A WEEKLY MEAL PLAN
With short-term memory troubles, it’s really important women get enough Omega 3 in their diet, as well as vitamin B and healthy fats like those in nuts and avocados in their diet.
Planning meals ahead is a good way to get an overview of what you’re eating and manage weight too, while shopping for the ingredients together and sharing the cooking can take the pressure off. You could even sign up for a cookery class to learn some new culinary skills.
SUGGEST A SUPPLEMENT
If they're still not getting enough of these brain-boosting vitamins and nutrients, perhaps they could benefit from taking a supplement.
Why not gently ask if they have tried anything like that?
Regular exercise is a key tool for managing short-term memory issues during the perimenopause and menopause.
Combining something you want to do (spend time together) along with something you need to do (exercise) can be a real game changer.
Partnering up to go for a walk, swim or to the gym is also more likely to help you both stay motivated.
ENCOURAGE HER TO SPEAK TO A DOCTOR
If this problem has been going on for a while or seems to be getting worse, gently encourage her to speak to a GP. You could even offer to go to the appointment with her to show your support.
If you'd like more information, we have put some further references below for you: