Coping with "Chemo Brain"

“Chemo brain” is the term cancer survivors use to describe the cognitive impairments that often follow cancer treatment with chemotherapy. Chemo brain can affect memory, thinking, learning, language skills, and concentration. For many cancer patients, this is a very frustrating and discouraging aspect of treatment. Here are some tips to help cancer patients stay mentally sharp during and after treatment.

  • Sticking to a schedule and a routine are great ways to avoid confusion
  • Organize the patient’s environment and eliminate any clutter
  • Sometimes sounds can be a distraction. When not in use, turn off televisions and radios
  • Use lists and calendars to keep yourself organized
  • Post-it notes or notes written on mirrors with dry erase pens are great reminders
  • Try to sharpen the memory by playing mind games, such as working on crossword puzzles
  • Sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet are all ways to clear the fogginess of chemo brain
  • Sometimes, talking about it helps. Encourage the patient to share his or her experiences and frustrations with a trusted confidante