One of the more subtle symptoms of menopause is memory loss. Unlike a hot flash, which the whole world can observe, forgetting familiar names and places is a quiet activity, occurring silently within ourselves.
And sometimes, you'd like to keep it that way.
But when this loss involves a co-worker or neighbor whose name you cannot remember or the simple act of asking a family member to pass "that yellow stuff" down the table, then it's hard to keep this malady a secret.
Oftentimes, during one of your blank moments, those close to you may think you've entered early Alzheimer's. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten the "what is wrong with you" stare from my daughter.
Nothing is wrong, I want to scream back. Just wait until you're my age and see how it feels. Because I can assure you, this is a common symptom.
So, having been in this phase of my life for at least five years now, I have some useful tips for getting by when it seems like you're losing your mind.
1. Take Photos - On the pretense that you're putting together a digital display of your work place, take photos of your co-workers and store them on your cell phone along with captions. When their name whooshes from your mind, pretend that you're reading a text and take a quick peek. Ah, yes. I'm talking to Trixie, the ex-stripper turned receptionist.
2. Call Yourself - If you need to remember to take your calcium after dinner, call yourself and leave a message on your answering machine. I've done this a dozen times. Usually by the time I get home, I've forgotten all about having made that call. I see the blinking light and get excited over who might have called, only to realize it was myself.
3. Make Lists - On your phone. Your computer. On an old-fashioned yellow pad of paper. I even leave Post-It notes on the fridge door and on the bathroom mirror reminding me to read the list that I left by the side of the bed.
4. Put Your Keys in the Fridge - If you have leftovers from lunch or have used that precious hour to grocery shop, place your keys in the refrigerator along with whatever it is you do not want to forget. Of course, you may spend quite a bit of time looking for your keys. In which case, you should leave a note on purse reminding you where you put them.
5. Create a Numbering System - In your mind, number the activities you need to perform before going to bed. Number one, take fish oil. Number two, charge phone. Number three, brush teeth, and so on. By doing everything the same each night, your mind falls into a pattern.
Have no fear.
I have a theory that all the events, the things, the words we've forgotten will be waiting for us on the other side of menopause (God willing, we reach that side). Younger women will look at us and exclaim, "Those old ladies sure have good memories!"
I'm just hoping that by that time I get there, I can remember who I am.