Take a look at how people age around the world with this AARP special report: A New Age.
by Susan Morse, July 2009
Two-thirds of women nearing menopause report feeling less mentally quick and more forgetful. They’re right—but the difference is subtle and the setback is temporary. So finds a study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, that its authors call the longest and largest to examine memory and menopause.
Gail Greendale, M.D., professor of medicine and obstetrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and her colleagues followed 2,362 women ages 42 to 52 over four years as they moved through menopause. At regular intervals the women took tests that measured memory, learning and mental processing speed. Here’s how they did on repeat tests:
* The test scores of premenopausal, early perimenopausal (women who had no gap in menstrual periods longer than three months) and postmenopausal women improved.
* The only group that didn’t test better over time contained the women closest to menopause.
Greendale says the findings match what patients tell her as they approach menopause. “They’re not complaining of devastating memory loss. They say things like, ‘I’m not as sharp as I was.’ That’s exactly what our study shows.” Greendale calls the evidence that women return to premenopausal learning levels once they complete menopause “the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” That, she says, is “very encouraging and very hopeful.”
R. Scott Turner, M.D., a professor of neurology and director of Georgetown University’s Memory Disorders Program, says the findings confirmed what many patients suspected.
“Finally,” he says, “after all these years of hearing women with memory complaints … and telling them we can’t find anything wrong, we can use this paper now to tell them what’s going on … and explain that the effects are subtle and temporary.”
The study appeared in the May 26 issue of the journal Neurology.
Susan Morse, formerly with the Washington Post, writes about health and consumer issues.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Enter address, city, state, or ZIP code.
Driver Safety (0)
Tax Aide (0)
Entertainment & Dining (0)
Healthcare & Insurance (0)
Financial Services & Insurance (0)
Member Local Offers (0)
Visit the AARP state page for information about events, news and resources near you.
This tool helps you identify your pills by color, shape and markings.
Members save 15% on the box of their choice.
Members can take a free confidential hearing test by phone.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at