Here are just a few examples of what patients call chemo brain:
Forgetting things that they usually have no trouble recalling (memory lapses).
Trouble concentrating (“spacing out”)
Trouble remembering details like names, dates and sometimes larger events
Trouble multi-tasking, like answering the phone while cooking, without loosing track of one task. (They are less able to do more than one thing at a time.)
Taking longer to finish things (disorganized, slower thinking and processing).
Trouble remembering common words (unable to find the right words to finish a sentence)
What can I do to manage Chemo Brain?
Get enough rest and sleep.
Exercise your body. Regular physical activity is not only good for your body, but also improves your mood, makes you feel more alert, and decreases tiredness (fatigue).
Set up and follow routines. Pick a certain place for commonly lost projects and put them there each time. Try to keep the same daily schedule.
Don’t try to multi-task. Focus on one thing at a time.
Ask for help when you need it. Friends and loved ones can help with daily tasks to cut down on distractions and help you save mental energy.
Try not to focus on how much these symptoms are bothering you. Accepting the problem will help you deal with it. As many patients have noted, being able to laugh about things you can’t control can help you cope. And remember, you probably notice your problems much more than others do.
Talk with your doctor and health care team, friends and family.
Another thing you can do to better manage chemo brain is telling family, friends, and your healthcare team about it. Let them know what you are going through. you may feel relieved once you tell people about the problems you sometimes have with your memory or thinking. Also, explain what makes the problem worse or better. For instance, are symptoms worse in the morning or evening? Do you have more trouble when you are hungry or tired? Does it help to nap, walk, or have a snack? Your doctor will want to know when these problems started and how they affect your daily life.