What is wrong with me?
Am I losing my mind?
Or is my attempt to do five things at once just backfiring.
These are common questions asked by many women over 40. It’s scary to
run into someone you know and having to fake it, because you’ve
completely blanked on her name. When is it just a product of a busy life and
when is it time to worry?
The good news (and bad news, depending on who you ask) is that it’s pretty
Jami: “I’m 28 and can’t remember anything! It is so frightening sometimes.
Sends me into panic attacks because I’m wondering if I have forgotten
something important for my kids or work even.”
George: “I went to the store for laundry detergent, that’s all. I came home
with a baguette, hummus and tomatoes. No laundry detergent. This kind of
thing happens to me now on a regular basis.”
Julie: “For sure it has become a problem for me. They changed the school
schedule and the kids get out early on Wednesday. I have to set a weekly
alarm to remind me because forgetting to pick up my kids, not once but
Tracy: “I misplace my phone at least once a day. Literally, within a minute
of laying it down I’ve forgotten where it is!”
Age According to FamilyDoctor.org, we begin to lose brain cells as
young as our 20s, the same time our bodies begin to make less of the
chemicals the remaining brain cells need to work, affecting our memory as
Hormones As if that’s not bad enough, a study done by McGill
University found that decreasing estrogen levels also do a number on our
working memory, which can explain why many women complain of
“mommy” or “menopause” brain
Sleep Without adequate sleep, your brain has a harder time absorbing
and recalling new information, according to WebMD. But sleep does more
than help sharpen the mind. Studies show that sleep (or lack thereof) affects
physical reflexes, fine motor skills, and judgment, too. One study showed
that participants who were sleep deprived were more likely to think they
were right when they were, in fact, wrong. (Not that any of us would do
Stress The need to get it all done and perfectly is enough to send
anyone over the edge. Think you’re a great multi-tasker? A recent study
says you’re wrong. (Maybe you just think you’re right because you’re sleep
deprived.) In fact, the study found that the better a person thinks they are
at multitasking, the worse they actually are. “The people who multitask the
most tend to be impulsive, sensation-seeking, overconfident of their
multitasking abilities, and they tend to be less capable of multitasking,”
study researcher David Strayer, also a psychology professor at the
University of Utah, said in the statement.
But what if overextending ourselves isn’t really the issue. How do we know if
we have a real problem?
While we may make jokes about the challenges of memory loss, how
do we know the difference between a common occurrence and something
more serious like dementia?
Could I Have Early-Onset Alzheimer’s?
According to FamilyDoctor.org, memory loss can become a more
serious problem as it affects your daily living. If you find that any of the
following apply to you, it’s best to consult your doctor.
• No longer remember how to do things you’ve done many times
before (losing your way to work even though you’ve taken the same route
over and over, not being able to follow directions in a recipe…)
• Changes in mood and personality
• Memory loss tends to increase over time (from several months to
What are some things we can do to thwart memory loss and
keep our minds sharp? Certain foods and food-based multi-vitamins are
said to be helpful in boosting memory and sharpness.
Allspice (promotes memory)
Avocado (remembering details)
Flax (assimilation of information and memory improvement)
Papaya (memory retention) Rosemary (forgetfulness)
And some lifestyle tweaks can go a long way in keeping your mind
Find a system For some, writing things down is enough to keep them
on track. For me, I’ve channeled my inner-nerd, creating spreadsheets for
everything from homework, paying bills, grocery lists and work assignments
(Now if I could only remember to open them).
Use it or lose it Like muscles, your brain needs to be exercised in
order to stay sharp. Consider skipping an hour of those mindless online
games and use the same time to learn a new skill, start a hobby, read a
book or even challenge the kids to a game of Scrabble.
Get healthy It’s not exactly breaking news that healthy diet, regular
exercise and clean living is said to keep you on your game. While you’re at
it, decrease or cut out the mind-zapping alcohol.
Sense of humor While memory loss can be extremely difficult, don’t
sweat the small stuff. Remember, we’re all getting older, don’t take it so