Short-term memory problems. Confusion. Inability to concentrate. Could it be Alzheimer’s?
Possibly; but if you’re a cancer survivor, there’s another common culprit that could be at play: chemotherapy. Known as “chemo brain fog” or by its technical term, chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment (CICI), effects such as these can continue for months or even years after treatment.
Chemo brain can occur in someone receiving chemotherapy as well as surgery, radiation, or hormonal treatments, even without chemo. Additionally, the cancer itself may cause cognitive issues as well, adding to the difficulty with effectively relieving 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.”
As a result, chemo brain fog may appear any time during or following cancer treatment, presenting with symptoms such as problems with:
- Reading comprehension
- Selecting the proper word (i.e., recalling the name of a person or familiar object)
- Completing sentences
- Processing information
- Attention span
A broad sense of fuzziness has also been reported. Taking these steps will help improve cognitive performance if chemo brain fog 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, selecting a parking space farther from your destination, or taking a daily walk around the neighborhood.
- Manage stress by incorporating time each and every day for relaxing activities.
- Reduce distractions.
- Get plenty of fresh air, protecting against contact with any airborne toxins.
- Make a realistic list of to-dos, and prioritize them.
- Use memory-assisting tools for example, notifications and alerts on your phone.
- Create and stick to a routine to assist with your particular concerns; for example, if you’re struggling with misplacing items, make a habit of consistently placing your keys, wallet, etc. in the identical spot each day.
Golden Harmony Home Care’s caregivers are experienced in caring for those with cancer, before, during, and after treatment. We develop a personalized plan of care that addresses any difficulties being faced and outlining solutions to help overcome them, through home care services such as:
- Planning and preparing nourishing meals that are appetizing to individuals receiving chemotherapy
- Grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, and running other errands as necessary
- Providing pleasant companionship to take part in conversations and fun activities to brighten every day
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Help with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing and using the bathroom
- And much more