Jeanne Tripplehorn 06.10.1963

Posts Tagged ‘aging’

Feeling Alone in the Menopausal Abyss? Throw a Party!

11.13.11

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?)

Extend Your Stroll, Expand Your Memory

2.7.11

This just in from the New York Times Health beat: regular walking can actually expand the hippocampus.


 Researchers at the University of Pittsburg found that among sedentary men and women, those who walked for 40 minutes, three times a week had a 2% increase in the size of their hippocampus (on average).  For those who didn’t walk,  the hippocampus shrank about 1%. And these weren’t 20-somethings: the average age of participants was 60. Walkers also improved their performance on memory tasks more than non-walkers. Something to think about the next time you’re debating between taking that stroll or sitting on the couch.


Check out Paula Span’s column for more info and links to the study.


Improve Your Menopause Memory With Exercise

1.29.11

If you think that as you get older your brain cells slowly die and there is nothing that you can do about it – you’re wrong!


There is a way to create new brain cells … aerobic exercise!


Aerobic exercise can create new brain cells in the region of the brain that is critical for memory – the hippocampus. It’s the hippocampus where learning new information and retaining it takes place.  In fact, it’s where Alzheimer’s disease begins.


The Salk Institute in La Jolla can be thanked for discovering the initial link between exercise and new brain cell growth.  Researchers compared adult mice who ran on hamster wheels to those who didn’t. The mice who ran on the wheels developed significantly more new brain cells in the hippocampus.


But the key here is that the exercise must be aerobic!


To  improve your menopause memory you need to get out there and huff and puff.  Increasing blood flow and getting oxygen to the brain is how this all works. With increased blood flow to the brain comes more oxygen and more growth factors from all over the body that contribute to the birth of new cells, including brain cells. And, as I tell my patients, walking the dog and stopping at every tree doesn’t count as aerobic. You’ve got to break a sweat at least 150 minutes a week. This can be broken up into smaller chunks of time, like  20-25 mintues a day or 50 minutes three times a week. For brain cell growth, the magic really seems to happen after exercising regularly between 3 and 6 weeks.


Now, I know exercise is not everyone’s cup of tea– finding the right form exercise is critical to both staying injury-free and motivated. My favorite form of aerobic exercise is the elliptical machine. It was designed to be easy on the knees and you can use it rain or shine.  With your arms and legs going and your ipod plugged into 80s music, you can feel like you’re dancing.  The problem is that you may also feel like singing.  As my husband likes to point out, I may be wearing headphones but he isn’t.  If you have balance problems or physical difficulties, you can try a recumbent elliptical machine.  You sit while working out so there’s no danger of falling. My patients have told me that they used them in physical therapy and were hooked in no time. If you have access to a pool (an indoor pool if you’re in those chilly climates), you can also try jogging in the water.


When the weather is nice (or if you don’t want to buy a piece of exercise equipment that costs more than your first car)  power walking is a great form of aerobic exercise. Bend those arms, pump them like pistons, bend the knees and step lightly heel to toe to save your knees.  You may look like you urgently need a restroom, but just think of those new brain cells…and toned legs!


So stop complaining about your menopause memory, get an okay from your doctor and get out there! Aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do for to keep your brain fit.


When does Menopause start? How will I know?

5.29.10

It really doesn’t help that menopause can only be recognized by hindsight. By the time that you can finally look backward and realize that you haven’t had your period for 12 months, you’ve come to terms with the changes, one way or another.


 

 

Wouldn’t it  be great if we had a warning light or a bell that went off somewhere when this whole process kicked in? Instead, we’re left in a state of confusion and uncertainty leading up to menopause that can last from the 40s to the 60s (yes, that long!). Although this transition stage finally has its own name – perimenopause, we know very little about it. There isn’t a definitive test for being perimenopausal. Hormones fluctuate so much throughout a woman’s cycle that your doctor can’t simply take a blood test one day and say “Yep, This is it – you are perimenopausal!”


 

 

The wide range of symptoms that one can expect and why we have them still remains a mystery.   Experts tell us that symptoms of perimenopause include irregular periods, hot flashes and night sweats. But what about those 5 pounds that you suddenly gain that you can’t lose, no matter how much you cut carbs, sweat on the elliptical, or crunch your way to an abdominal cramp? Or what about that gradual increase in anxiety that you can’t explain? Before you know it, you develop sleep problems and that wine (most tragically) starts to give you headaches. How about your recent habit of forgetting familiar names and words and those transient episodes when it seems like your mind is turning to mush…Where was I? Oh, right.  How are these symptoms related to menopause? It’s obvious that we’re going to need from both science and girlfriends to get to the bottom of this issue.  So, before you get distracted by a hot flash and forget, take a moment and send us your menopause moments, concerns and questions!