Cognitive Changes in Menopause
Memory complaints, such as forgetfulness, are common in midlife women. 40-60% of women experience cognitive changes during the menopause transition. Sometimes women feel that they struggle to find words, can’t remember short-term things (like why they went into a room, where they left their keys) or that their focus at work or in their lives has changed.
I have a lot of women coming to see me worried about the brain fog they are experiencing as they transition through menopause. I know a lot of you fear that these cognitive changes may mean you have an increased risk of Alzheimer's or dementia down the road.
What I want you to know is that these are normal menopause changes. We see that cognitive performance does bounce back post-menopause. Your menopausal brain is not shriveling up! That doesn't mean that we just wait for these cognitive changes to be over (there are things we can do to help you) but it is also reassuring to know these changes are temporary.
Now if you are post-menopause, and have been for the past few years, and you are still experiencing cognitive changes, then this is likely not related to menopause. This is when we have to investigate further and do a full assessment.
It’s important that we do as much as possible to support your cognitive health during this time of your life. Here are a few ways you can support your cognitive health:
Address your other menopause symptoms. Changes in sleep, mood, and temperature all worsen daytime focus and attention.
Include the MIND diet principles in your nutrition plan (the best-studied diet for cognitive health is the MIND diet - this diet is a modification of the Mediterranean diet that places additional focus on nutrients known to prevent cognitive changes as we age.)
Reduce your use of alcohol and stimulants like caffeine (especially if they get in the way of your sleep.)
Include mind-body techniques that improve your stress response. Women have a lot of responsibilities at this phase of life between work and family! Yoga, journaling, and exercise can help focus and attention during the day. Choose something you can be consistent with.
Patients are often surprised to know that nutrition is one of the most powerful tools for delaying cognitive aging. You can actually change your cognitive decline trajectory by adopting a diet that helps improve brain function and prevents dementia. I work with patients to create long-term sustainable changes that help support energy balance while also being beneficial for cardiovascular, brain, and bone health. If this sounds like something you would like support with, book your call here.