How Older Women’s Brains Get Upgraded

As adults reach middle age and beyond, it’s easy to be convinced by society that our bodies, and minds may be starting to slip, and we can become less sure of ourselves and our decisions.  But the latest scientific research has some encouraging news, especially for women, about the improvements the aging brain experiences when hormones settled down. 

According to a recent post in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper, Neurobiologist Dr. Louann Brizendine has discovered through years of research that during and following menopause, women’s brains are reshaped.  When the fluctuating hormones associated with the fertile years dissipate, older women can experience greater clarity of thought and an improved ability to concentrate. 

Brizendine’s latest book, The Upgrade, illustrates how older adults are, in general, happier than their younger counterparts.  With more life experience and a greater capacity to look for the positive, many older people report being content and happy in their lives.  Older women are also freer to be direct and spend less effort trying to please others.  Estrogen waves in younger women cause them to avoid standing up for their values and their beliefs, but when these hormones fade in older age, women experience changes in the way their brains process anger and disappointment. 

When women age out of their reproductive years, they are less stressed and anxious about the many demands of running a household, raising children, building a career, and possibly taking care of aging parents.  With age comes a new ability to focus on the task at hand, and excel, rather than trying to constantly multitask.   With all the negative messages women receive about aging, it’s important to remember there are also many benefits.  

Older adults can have great joy, meaning, purpose, and love in their lives.  The later chapters in life can often be the most fulfilling, rewarding, and exciting.