What Are the Symptoms of Chemo Brain, and How Can You Reduce Its Effects?

Could memory and focus problems be the result of chemo brain?

Confusion. Short-term memory problems. Inability to focus. Could it be Alzheimer’s?

Perhaps; however if you are a cancer survivor, there is another likely culprit that could be at play: chemotherapy. Known as chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment (CICI) or “chemo brain,” effects such as these can continue for months and on occasion even years post-treatment.

Chemo brain can occur in anyone receiving chemotherapy as well as radiation, surgery, or hormonal treatments, even without chemo. Furthermore, the cancer itself can cause cognitive issues as well, compounding the issue with effectively treating the condition.

Dr. Kevin Liou of the Bendhaim Integrative Medicine Center of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center shares, “Cancer-related cognitive impairment is now understood to be a complex, multi-factorial problem with various contributory factors.”

Because of this, chemo brain may appear any time during or after cancer treatment, presenting with symptoms such as problems with:

  • Multitasking
  • Reading comprehension
  • Selecting the proper word (for example, remembering the name of an individual or common object)
  • Finishing sentences
  • Processing information
  • Attention span

An over-all sense of fuzziness has also been documented. Taking these steps will help optimize cognitive functioning if chemo brain is affecting you or someone you love:

  • Prioritize getting 6 – 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Exercise every day for at least 20 – 30 minutes. This can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, choosing a parking space a greater distance away from your destination, or taking a daily walk around the block.
  • Manage stress by incorporating time each day for calming activities.
  • Reduce distractions.
  • Get plenty of fresh air, avoiding contact with any airborne toxins.
  • Make a feasible list of to-dos, and prioritize them.
  • Use memory-assisting tools, such as alerts and notifications on your smartphone.
  • Create and stick to a routine to help with your specific concerns; for instance, if you are struggling with misplacing items, make a habit of consistently placing your keys, wallet, etc. in the identical position every single day.

Responsive Home Care’s caregivers are skilled in caring for individuals diagnosed with cancer, before, during, and after treatment. We create a customized plan of care that details any difficulties being faced and outlining solutions to help overcome them, through home care services such as:

  • Planning and preparing healthy meals that are appetizing to individuals receiving chemotherapy
  • Grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, and running other errands as needed
  • Providing pleasant companionship to take part in conversations and fun activities to brighten every day
  • Laundry and light housekeeping
  • Help with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom
  • And much more

Give us a call today at (954) 486-6440 to learn more about our home care in Deerfield Beach, FL and the surrounding areas. We are available to discuss your unique needs and to share how we can help.