Menopause: 6 Ways to Preserve Memory

Stephanie Watson | Mar 8th 2017 May 11th 2017

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What to know

Women earlier in life have the edge over men in memory and cognitive performance, but their lead thins and then disappears after menopause. Still, you shouldn’t resign yourself to living with frustrating memory slips, such as difficulty concentrating, blanking out on names, losing your train of thought, misplacing items, and forgetting appointments. Here are six things you can do to preserve your memory today, and protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in the future.

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1. Avoid excess pounds

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at 80 obese people age 60 and up who had mild cognitive impairment, mostly women. It found that those who lost weight showed improvements in executive function, language skills, ability to recall words, and overall cognitive capacities.

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2. Eat a plant-based diet

Researchers at Rush University in Chicago have developed an eating plan composed of foods that may protect the brain. Appropriately named the MIND diet, this plan favors plant-based foods (especially berries and leafy greens), fish, beans, and whole grains, and it limits saturated fat (from meat and cheese) and sweets.

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3. Get enough sleep

The idea that you need less sleep as you age isn’t true. You still need the same seven to nine hours a night as you did when you were younger. Sleep is essential to memory. While you sleep, your brain consolidates and firms up new information you’ve recently learned and might remove the harmful amyloid protein thought to cause Alzheimer’s.

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4. Stay physically fit

Exercise is essential to brain health. When you work out, you send a surge of oxygen-rich blood to nourish your brain. A growing body of evidence indicates that physical activity might play a role in preventing cognitive decline. The current recommendations call for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly.

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5. Stay mentally fit

Training your brain is essential, too. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who frequently engaged in intellectual pursuits like reading, playing board games, or playing a musical instrument were less likely to develop dementia years later.

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6. See your doctor

A number of health conditions can contribute to memory issues, including depression, a thyroid disorder, hearing or vision loss, vitamin deficiencies, and stress. Midlife high blood pressure is a risk factor for dementia later in life.