Short-term memory problems. Confusion. Inability to concentrate. Could it be Alzheimer’s?
Perhaps; but if you’re a cancer survivor, there’s another common culprit that could be at play: chemotherapy. Known as chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment (CICI) or “chemo brain,” effects such as these can last for months or even years post-treatment.
Chemo brain can occur in anyone receiving chemotherapy as well as radiation, surgery, or hormonal treatments, even without chemo. Additionally, the cancer itself can cause cognitive problems as well, compounding the difficulty with effectively treating the condition.
Dr. Kevin Liou of the Bendhaim Integrative Medicine Center of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center explains, “Cancer-related cognitive impairment is now understood to be a complex, multi-factorial problem with various contributory factors.”
As a result, chemo brain can occur any time during or after cancer treatment, presenting with symptoms such as difficulty with:
- Reading comprehension
- Finding the right word (i.e., remembering the name of a person or familiar object)
- Completing sentences
- Processing information
- Attention span
A general feeling of fuzziness has also been reported. Taking these steps can help maximize cognitive functioning if chemo brain is impacting you or someone you love:
- Prioritize getting 6 – 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise each day for at least 20 – 30 minutes. This can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, choosing a parking space farther away from your destination, or taking a daily walk around the block.
- Manage stress by incorporating time every day for calming activities.
- Minimize distractions.
- Get plenty of fresh air, avoiding exposure to any airborne toxins.
- Make a realistic list of to-dos, and prioritize them.
- Use memory-assisting tools such as notifications and alerts on your phone.
- Create and stick to a routine to help with your particular concerns; for instance, if you’re struggling with misplacing items, make a habit of always placing your keys, wallet, etc. in the same place every single day.
Generations at Home’s caregivers are skilled in caring for those diagnosed with cancer, before, during, and after treatment. We develop a personalized plan of care that addresses any challenges being faced and outlining solutions to help overcome them, through services such as:
- Planning and preparing healthy meals that are palatable to those receiving chemotherapy
- Grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, and running other errands as needed
- Providing friendly companionship to engage in conversations and fun activities to brighten each day
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Assistance with personal care needs
- And more
Call us at 727-940-3414 and let us know how we can help.