Jeanne Tripplehorn 06.10.1963

Posts Tagged ‘Memory’

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

Menopause Mind Proof: Not Losing Memory, But Brain Works Harder


Although we’ve been convinced that the Menopause Mind is real for a while now, hence this blog, finding empirical support for the connection between menopause and memory declines has been as easy as finding those car keys you left in the fridge.


Well, it seems like we’re both right and wrong. The Los Angeles Times just ran an piece on the findings of a recent study designed to examine whether or not post-menopausal women complaining of memory problems performed significantly worse on memory tests than women who did not share these complaints.  Researchers at the University of Vermont and Vanderbilt used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to examine the brain activity of 22 women while they worked on various memory tasks. It turns out that the performance of the 12 women who complained of memory problems on these tests was no different from that of the 10 women who claimed that their memory was fine.

But, the researcher’s also found that the brains of the complainers were much more active than the non-complainers. Specifically, the action was increased in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in intellectual functioning and working memory, and the anterior cingulate cortex, which is involved in a variety of autonomic  functions (think blood pressure,  heart rate) and cognitive functioning including decision making, learning and emotion.


So, what does this mean for you? Even though you feel like your memory is shot  (the subjective experience of menopause mind), it may not really be that bad (your objective memory ability), but your brain is probably working overtime to compensate for memory slips.  To us, this translates to the following:  if you feel like you have memory problems, they probably exist, but your brain kicks into high gear to make up for them. Keep in mind that this study was done with 22 women, all of whom were post-menopausal. They did not compare post-menopausal women with pre-menopausal women  This does not yet support the theory that physiological changes during menopause cause memory deficits. But it seems we’re one step closer to grasping the workings of the mind’s mysterious metamorphosis during and after menopause than we had been–although not entirely there.


The LA Times piece also includes a discussion of the findings from another recent study that examined hormone changes and brain matter. To put it very simply, they examined the brains of women before and after a brief round of hormone therapy (increased estrogen). They found an increase in the density of grey matter after hormone therapy. This suggests that hormones may influence brain’s functioning by playing a role in how much grey matter–the more grey matter, the better your cognitive functioning. But it’s still unclear what exactly is going on.  The University of Vermont and Vanderbilt researchers plan to test hormone therapy as a way to improve memory among the complainers.  Or, maybe they’ll just get them to stop complaining. We’ll keep you posted.

Memory Tip #2 Keep a Log of the Day


If you’re mind is gone, than you’ll need to find a substitute…and we’ve got one just for you!

Step 1: Get yourself a spiral bound notebook. Try to find one that fits in your bag or purse. (See below for suggestions)

Step 2: Open the first page of the notebook and write down today’s date.

Step 3: Log everything that happens. Note every phone call, every meeting, every conversation, every thought. Don’t answer the phone without a pen and your notebook in hand. Don’t grab for a sticky or a random piece of paper, you’ll just end up losing these. Write everything in your notebook even if it’s just a scribble.

Step 4: At the end of the day review your notes:

a) Put events on your calendar with address and directions

b) Add contacts to your iphone

c) Turn to a fresh page, put the next day’s date at the top and create a “To Do”  list


Sample Log of the Day:


Finding the Right Notebook:

You’ll be using this notebook everyday so it helps to choose one that will withstand some wear & tear and one that you enjoy using, be it because of the paper quality, utility features (e.g. pockets), or simply because it’s pretty. Here are some suggestions:


Project Planner: This is a notebook with your typical lined pages, but with added sections for lists.

Cambridge Project Planner Notebook, $9.99, Staples.



Pretty Notebooks: If you like looking at something, chances are you’ll use it more than if you don’t. There are so many pretty notebooks available these days, there’s no need to settle for those boring notebooks from elementary school are a thing of the past.

Jonathan Adler Notebooks with Pockets, $9.99, Barnes & Noble.





















Vera Bradley Notebooks with Pockets, $10-16.





For a fun twist on an old classic, these notebooks are made from vintage books, including novels, text books, and children’s books. Ex Libris Anonymous, $14.













Notebooks with Pen Holders: Don’t waste time searching through your black hole of a bag for a pen. Get a notebook with a pen already attached. Or you can buy pockets and pen holders for the notebooks you already own. Page Pockets & Pen Loop, $3.99-4.99, The Container Store.



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.

Extend Your Stroll, Expand Your Memory


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.