Understanding Chemo Brain and Its Effects

Understanding Chemo Brain and Its Effects
A man holds his head and looks confused as he experiences the effects of chemo brain.

Chemo brain can last for months or even years after treatment has ended.

Memory lapses, confusion, and difficulty concentrating—these symptoms could easily be attributed to Alzheimer’s, but for cancer survivors, there’s another likely culprit: chemotherapy. Referred to as chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment (CICI) or “chemo brain,” these effects can linger for months or even years after treatment concludes. It’s not exclusive to chemotherapy recipients, either; radiation, surgery, hormonal treatments, and even the cancer itself can contribute to cognitive challenges, complicating effective treatment.

Exploring the Complexity:

Dr. Kevin Liou from the Bendhaim Integrative Medicine Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center emphasizes that cancer-related cognitive impairment is a multifaceted issue with various contributing factors. This complexity means that chemo brain can manifest at any point during or after cancer treatment, presenting symptoms like difficulty multitasking, reading comprehension issues, word-finding struggles, incomplete sentences, impaired information processing, and a diminished attention span. Some also report a pervasive feeling of mental fuzziness.

Maximizing Cognitive Function:

For those grappling with chemo brain, or supporting a loved one through it, adopting certain lifestyle measures can help enhance cognitive functioning. Here are steps to consider:

  1. Prioritize Quality Sleep: Aim for 6–8 hours of restful sleep each night.
  2. Incorporate Daily Exercise: Engage in at least 20–30 minutes of daily exercise, whether it’s taking the stairs, choosing a farther parking spot, or going for a regular walk.
  3. Manage Stress Effectively: Dedicate time daily to calming activities to mitigate stress.
  4. Minimize Distractions: Create an environment conducive to focus by minimizing distractions.
  5. Fresh Air and Toxin Avoidance: Spend time outdoors for fresh air and avoid exposure to airborne toxins.
  6. Organized To-Do Lists: Make realistic to-do lists and prioritize tasks effectively.
  7. Utilize Memory-Assisting Tools: Leverage phone notifications and alerts to aid memory.
  8. Establish Routines: Develop and stick to routines, especially if memory lapses involve misplacing items. Consistency can be a key ally.

Supportive Care from Hired Hands Homecare:

At Hired Hands Homecare, our caregivers are adept at providing comprehensive care for individuals diagnosed with cancer, both during and after treatment. Our personalized care plans address unique challenges, offering solutions through services such as:

  • Planning and preparing chemotherapy-friendly meals
  • Grocery shopping, prescription pickups, and running errands
  • Engaging in friendly companionship with conversations and activities
  • Light housekeeping and laundry assistance
  • Support with personal care needs

If you or a loved one could benefit from our services, available in Novato, Pleasanton, Santa Rosa, and the surrounding areas, call us at (866) 940-4343. Let us know how we can support you on this journey.

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Want to find out more about our senior care in California and how it can improve safety, comfort, and independence at home? Contact us at (866) 940-4343 to request a free in-home consultation to learn more about our customized care solutions in Novato, Pleasanton, Santa Rosa, Napa, Sonoma, and the surrounding areas.

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