Memory Issues in Elderly Women
Hormonal Memory Changes
- Memory loss is often an effect of the drastic hormonal changes a woman's body goes through during menopause. Estrogen, a key hormone in the female reproductive system, also influences many other functions, including language skills, mood, attention and memory. During menopause, a woman's estrogen levels drop. The resulting permanent estrogen deficit can cause issues ranging from fogginess and absentmindedness to severe memory loss. In many cases, these memory issues can be alleviated when post-menopausal women are treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Obesity-Related Memory Loss
- The more an elderly woman weighs, the worse her memory is, according to a study done by the Women's Health Initiative at Northwestern University. Northwestern scientists observed 8,745 cognitively normal women aged 65 to 79 as they were given a 100-point memory test, known as the Modified Mini-Mental Status Examination. Their results showed that for every one-point increase of a woman's body mass index (BMI), her memory score dropped by one point. Women who store body fat around the hips, which is considered a pear-shaped body type, are particularly vulnerable to memory loss. It's thought that the fat stored around the hips releases more memory-damaging hormones than the fat stored in other places. Weight control, especially in patients with pear-shaped bodies, can help keep this type of memory loss at bay.
- According to E! Science News, the American Academy of Neurology states that women older than 90 are more likely to suffer from dementia compared with men of the same age. Dementia describes a broad range of symptoms, such as memory loss, personality change and impaired mental function, emotions and social skills. These symptoms are extreme, going above and beyond the normal mental decline that is a typical part of aging.
There are many different forms of dementia, each with its own causes. Dementia can also be a symptom that develops in the later stages of some illnesses. Common forms or causes of dementia include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, vascular disease, Huntington's disease, alcohol-related dementia, AIDS-related dementia and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD). There is currently no prevention or cure for dementia, but it can be treated with medication to reduce symptoms.