Jeanne Tripplehorn 06.10.1963


Memory Tip #4: Avoid Multitasking!


As the holidays approached, my girlfriend Tina began calling her cat Seymour. Her cat’s name is Garvey.  Seymour was the cat who lived next door many, many years ago. Tina wasn’t dementing. She wasn’t losing her memory. She was just another victim of Holiday Haze - a state of mind that occurs when you try to keep track of way too many things at one time and usually gets worse around the holidays.

Multitasking, keeping “too many balls in the air” or mental tracking (as psychologists call it), requires a great deal of attention and it’s exhausting. In fact, in terms of using up the brain’s energy, multitasking  is very expensive. Think about it this way: when you have a ton of programs running on your computer, it’s processing speed just isn’t as fast as when you’re only checking your e-mail.  Mental tracking is also a cognitive skill that declines dramatically with age. Hooray.



Unfortunately, we tend to beat ourselves up when we can’t manage everything as well as we  used to. Even though my gal pals now work full time, they’re still the ones who remain determined to create the perfect family holiday: festive decorations, yummy sweet treats, merry gatherings and thoughtful gifts for everyone. The need to recreate a 1950s vision of the holidays is probably nuts, but it seems that most moms suffer from this delusion. Mom may be the glue that holds the family together but she’s starting to melt!



So how do we avoid the overload of multitasking ? Here’s how:

1) Cut out anything superfluous. Learn to say “no” to commitments and delegate tasks to others. Acknowledge that you only have so much cognitive capacity and if  you commit to handling too much, you’re going to probably do a crummy job of it, or worse, drive yourself batty. Keep in mind that this will require some of us control freaks to get comfortable with others helping out and doing things their way. I know, perish the thought. But remember that this is all in the name of saving your brain. Trust us. Real Simple offers some great tips on how to politely say “no” to extra commitments.

2) Don’t try to juggle details or hold information in your mind, write it down, make a list, add it to your “log of the dayand then dismiss it. Keeping things off of your brain’s hard drive will allow it to run more efficiently.

3) Get organized! Don’t waste precious cognitive energy trying to retrace your steps to find those keys and that lost mitten. Organize your life so that it requires as little extra attention as possible.

4) Try to create a quiet, distraction free environment in which to work. Even something as simple as extraneous noise or voices drains attention.  In my office, voices permeate the walls.  I have found that a simple white noise machine or the background noise from a fan improves my concentration immensely.

5) Focus on one task at a time and finish it before moving on. Tell yourself that until you finish your task, you are not allowed to check your e-mail, answer the phone or roam the internet (yes, that includes Facebook).

Obviously, we can’t completely avoid multitasking, so here’s how you can perform your best while doing it:

1) Complete your multitasking  in the morning when you are fresh and rested. As the day progresses and you get fatigued, your skills will decline.

2) Eat a piece of fruit in the afternoon. The brain relies on glucose (sugar) and when glucose is depleted, attention skills suffer.  If you don’t have access to fresh fruit, keep prunes, raisins or cranberry juice on hand. Your attention should improve and you’ll be  getting those important antioxidents as well.

3) Avoid stress. Worries use up brain energy and diminish our ability to pay attention. (Yes, easier said than done, but we’ll be posting a list of some stress busters soon. Stay tuned!)

4) Avoid alcohol. Surprise, surprise: alcohol impairs our ability to perform tasks that require a lot of attention.  Now, before you throw your laptop across the room in protest, there’s good news: At the end of the day, when the multitasking demands are over, that one margarita may not be such a bad thing. In fact, in the long run, it might even improve your memory. Say what? Yes, you read that right! Cheers!




Tips on How to Stay Healthy During Menopause in 2012






This time of year is often one of hope and motivation to finally follow through on those resolutions.


Most resolutions focus on improving health, which is why we’d like to kick off 2012 with a list of ways to stay healthy during menopause from US News & World Report:

Eat a balanced, nutritious diet that’s low in calories.


Get a minimum of two-and-a-half hours per week of moderate aerobic exercise.


If you’re a smoker, quit.


Visit your gynecologist for an annual checkup and any recommended screening tests.


Talk to your doctor about any immunizations you may need.


Among our long list of resolutions for this coming year is our commitment to bring you the latest news and findings from cutting-edge research to help you improve the health of your mind and body during menopause. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2012!

Memory Tip #3: Get Organized!

For over a decade our friend, Linda Wallace, has been designing interiors for Southern California homes. We invited Linda to provide some insight into how to organize your surroundings to maximize your menopaused memory, while also keeping things pretty.

Are you a basket case when you lose things?  Do you find yourself feeling scattered because, well, things are scattered? Women don’t have to be “of a certain age” to constantly feel forgetful.  Do you have young kids?  Stress in the workplace? Both? If you’d like some semblance of organization in your home without breaking the bank for an “organizer” – read on!

The simplest solution to this common scenario is to follow these key organizational rules:


Keep essentials visible. If you can see it, you’ll remember where you put it.


Keep essentials in the same place, every time. You won’t waste time and precious brain cells searching for your things.


Keep your essentials displayed attractively. You’ll be more likely to keep things in the same place if you like the way these places look.


Keeping things visible without leaving your home a total eyesore requires some design know-how. There are a lot of “get organized” and “great storage ideas” books out there, but they’re usually too long and pretty dry.  Put your feet up to read them and you’re out like a light!  Let’s face it, those books are for energetic, young brains. My tips are for women like me:  the “menopausally” challenged who need their clutter to be out in the open where they can find it – yet attractively displayed.   If that’s you, too, keep reading (but don’t put your feet up)!


Let’s get things out in the open and make them look pretty!


KEYS: Create drop-off locations at each main entry and exit to your home.  Why two?  Because, if you come in one way, the chances that you’ll walk all the way to the other entrance without setting the keys down somewhere along the way are pretty slim. Avoid misplaced keys by only keeping them in these two locations.  Use a decorative bowls or baskets on entry tables or near back door entrances. I prefer baskets or bowls over key hooks because my hands are usually full when I’m coming in the house.  It’s much easier to drop than hang.


GLASSES: Don’t even try to keep track of your readers.  It’s a waste of time.  Reading glasses have become quite affordable (you can buy them at the 99 Cent store!) making it easier to buy them in bulk.  I keep a pair in the following locations: television room, bedside table, laundry room (who can read those tags?!), kitchen, car, purse, outside patio, garage.



Bonus Tip (Greeting Cards): Off to a party, running late and no birthday card?   Think you bought one, but where did you put it?  Keep all greeting and thank you cards in an antique tin box or a lidded basket.  I make sure there’s a pen in there, too…and maybe another pair of reading glasses!  Remember, just like in decorating-group ‘like items’ together in one place.




RINGS: Place a small, porcelain dish in up to 3 locations (depending on your habits): by the kitchen sink, bathroom lavatory, and next to your bed.


PINS: Know that woman who always dons cool pins and you think, Why didn’t I think to wear a pin? Probably because it was buried in a drawer and you couldn’t see it.  Out of sight, out of mind! An inexpensive and fun way to avoid that is pinning them on a long ribbon and hanging it where you get dressed.  Tie the ribbon on a decorative hook or tack it right to the wall or a shelf.





BRACELETS & NECKLACES: I don’t think there is anything prettier than interesting bowls full of chunky jewelry set out on your vanity or dresser.  I use silver, porcelain or wicker containers.  As colorful as flowers, but much less maintenance!















BULLETIN BOARDS: Whether for appointments or invitations, they are a must! There are a jillion places to purchase nice ones.  I like Ballard Designs or Pottery Barn.  Or make a fabric-covered one yourself. (yeah, right).  And please – no dry erase boards.  They’re ugly and those pens stink.







WRITING IMPLEMENTS & MISCELLANEOUS SUPPLIES: Display pens, pencils, and other office tools in a collection of decorative vases or those ceramic pieces your kid made in the first grade that you just can’t throw away.  It’s better than digging through drawers.



MAGAZINES: Yes, that pile of magazines by your bed that you haven’t had time to read?  Please put those in a nice, big basket.  Attractive and you won’t slip on them getting out of bed at night.  Much cheaper than a new hip.

Bonus Tip (Magazine/Catalog Clippings): Use magazine holders to store catalogs you may “need” in the future; pages you tear out of magazines, take-out menus, travel brochures – hide anything in these you’ll never take the time to file.  They look tidy and attractive on shelves. Magazine holders can be grossly overpriced, so I get mine at IKEA.





“HOUSEHOLD” DRAWER: OK,  I lied.  Some things should be out of sight.  Growing up we called it the “junk drawer”.   Small household tools, tape – you know the stuff.  Buy cheap drawer dividers and throw it all in there!  At least it’s in one place and make sure to keep it all there!

COUNTER TOP CLUTTER: Out in the open on the counter is fine, but only if they look nice.  Maybe it’s a designer thing, but containers do help the cluttered house/cluttered mind syndrome.  Put those unsightly vitamin bottles in a fun basket so you remember to take them but don’t constantly knock them over.  Fill a vintage flowerpot with those “grab & go” snack bars that are keeping you so thin.




Already in bed and don’t feel like getting up?  By your bed, in yet another pretty box, basket or tray, keep your reading glasses, lip balm, hand lotion, pen and a small notepad for the “to do list” you fret over in the middle of the night when you are undoubtedly wide awake!


SO… now that your home is beautifully contained and clutter free, you have time to search for the answers to life, not your car keys.  Happy organizing!

–Linda Wallace, Divine Finds Interiors

Solution for Insomnia and Other Menopause Symptoms: Yoga?


A recent study in the journal Menopause found that post-menopausal women who participated in a yoga program reported less insomnia and fewer menopausal symptoms than those who did not.  These findings suggest that yoga might help ease those pesky menopausal symptoms!

The researchers assigned 44 post-menopausal women to three groups: 15 were assigned to do yoga twice a week, 14 women were assigned to a stretching program, and the last 15 did nothing . After four months, the women in the yoga group reported fewer symptoms than women who did nothing.


Now, before you get yourself tied into a knot, keep in mind that this was a small study and that there were no significant differences found between women in the yoga group and those in the stretching group on menopausal symptoms. It may be that the physical stretching alone could be beneficial. Yoga has been shown to help relieve stress and actually lead to changes in the body’s physiological response to stress via the sympathetic nervous system. At the very least both yoga and stretching allow you take a break from the daily grind to focus on how your body feels, increasing your mindfulness. These exercises usually encourage deep breathing, another scientifically supported method of stress relief. An added bonus: muscle movement and deep breathing can lead to a bump in the release of endorphins, those feel good neurochemicals that help relieve pain and stress.


So instead of rolling your eyes the next time you see those yoga groupies looking perfect in their Lululemon gear, you might consider joining them! We’re sure you can still roll your eyes while in downward doggy or whatever the heck they call that.

Feeling Alone in the Menopausal Abyss? Throw a Party!


Going through menopause not only can make you feel like you’re losing your marbles, it can also be pretty isolating. Memory lapses, irritability, fatigue, and a host of other physical symptoms can leave you frustrated, burnt out, and a acting little demented…which can send your friends and family hightailing it to the hills!


Instead of the typical social withdrawal, why not throw a party?

Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, has been bringing women together to teach them about growing older with menopause-themed parties. Or, as we call them here, menoParties!  It’s a time to vent, share your menoPaused moments, get informed, feel supported,  and boost each other up, all while having a merry time.


Not unlike a support group, these shindigs  can help to “normalize” your menopause experience. This is psychology speak for: you’re not the only one going through this and you’re not a freak of nature…you’re simply menopausal.  And you can share how it’s anything but simple with women who get it.


Want to throw a menoParty of your own? Invite your gal pals over, have some tasty eats and sips, and read through Menopause Mind together for  titillating discussion topics! (How’s that for a plug?)

Memory Tip #1 Stop Worrying!


Feeling like your memory has gone MIA? It may be time to… get over it!

Memory declines with age and a few “menopause moments” are completely normal. Now, if you are still thinking: my memory is REALLY bad or I’ve completely lost it …PLEASE STOP!

The worst thing that you can do is to become self-critical. Don’t beat yourself up every time  you’ve forgotten something you think you should have remembered.  All this worrying about your memory and feeling like you’re not as good as you should be can lead to anxiety and depression, both of which are bad for your brain.

In fact, emotional distress can make your memory worse!

If you are very worried that you’re having memory problems or others have complained to you about your memory, you may want to get tested. Ask your primary care physician to refer you to a neuropsychologist for a neuropsychological assessment (doc-speak for memory testing).  A good neuropsychological assessment will take a few hours, but in the end, you’ll have a good sense of how you are performing when compared to other people your age. A word of warning: neuropsychological assessments are expensive. Find out what your insurance will cover before you’re left with a colossal bill, more stress, and even worse memory!

If you are willing to become involved in research you can often get a free neuropsychological assessment at your local Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC). These centers are funded by the National Institute on Aging and located throughout the US at major medical institutions.

Here at the University of Southern California our ADRC is part of our Memory and Aging Center (MAC) with locations in Los Angeles, Downey and Rancho Mirage. If you want more information about our center, link to our website or call Nadine Diaz, MSW at (323) 442-7600.