• Chemo Brain Tools

    Asked by nancyjac on Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Chemo Brain Tools

    I think there is an untapped market for tools for the chemo brain impaired. Not only is mine not getting any better, I think it is getting worse. My short term memory sucks....and I mean the really short term, like minutes or just a few hours. Yesterday I can remember fine, but 2 minutes or 2 hours ago, not so much.
    Anyway, I have come up with yet another tool to compensate. I have to write everything down in order to remember not only upcoming appointments, but day to day things like paying the bills, doing the laundry, running errands, etc. I have a really large wall calendar for 2013 gift. Has space on each day to write in appointments and such, but it is big enough that I can also put little sticky notes on it to remind me of day to day stuff or projects I want to do sometime during the month. That way I can just put the sticky note off for the day as my to do list and then just move to the next date I need to do those same tasks.
    What useful tools have you come up with?

    16 Answers from the Community

    16 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      Good idea nancy, as a long term chemo brain "victim" I can say mine isn't going to get any better. I am big into the notes, I have a spiral notebook I keep with my laptop to write things down in when I think of them, if I don't then 5 minutes later I'm trying to think of the great idea I just had. It's embarassing sometimes, but I have learned to cope, and adjust. I also do mind excercises on a motorcycle safety site, kind of a flashcard type thing it helps I think.

      almost 4 years ago
    • veedub's Avatar

      i have a notebook which is ruled in a grid pattern and i have all my daily, weekly, and monthly activities listed so i can check them off. i've been keeping this book for years, long before diagnosis, because my memory is really terrible. it's somewhat worse these days, but i'm not sure if it's chemo brain or simply being distracted.

      almost 4 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      to do lists, sending myself emails to remember to do things....I take notes to help me remember (this means I'm hearing and writing, so using two modalities)....and I've lowered my expectations!!!

      almost 4 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I have always had an excellent memory -- my high school friends love it because I can recall all those fun times in detail. The long term memory remains. Short term memory no longer serves me well. I will forget, within minutes, something that I thought was important to do. So, I am learning to keep a list and write it down at the moment of the thought. For some unknown reason, I am starting to get into "cooking" again. I have to really keep a check on myself. I made stuffed pork chops -- I went to the market to get fresh ground sausage, fresh celery, etc. so that it would be good. As they were baking, I realized that I forgot the most important ingredient for the flavor -- the sage. We missed a concert at our Church because I totally forgot which is something that I never would have done in the past. I worry about repeating myself to my family and friends because I cannot remember if I told them something so I now ask "Did I tell you ----------". There is an saying "the older you get, the faster that time flies by" -- I think that the swift passage of time also lends to not remembering something from yesterday or the day before. At first, it really bothered me that my short term memory was letting me down -- but I have now gotten to the point of "who cares?" -- at least I am here in the present and able to enjoy the moment. And, as for other people, all I can say is "Love me as I am or don't love me at all!".
      I have always made an effort to do "Brain Exercise" and I continue to do Sudoku, Word Jumble and Crossword Puzzle daily. The Sunday Cryptogram can be very challenging but when I do it, I get a great sense of satisfaction that the old brain is still working!!

      almost 4 years ago
    • DorothyV's Avatar

      I use post it notes all the time! If I am going somewhere, I'll put a post it note on the front door to remind me what I need to take with me. I mark everything on my calendar. I find it annoying when I try to explain it to people and they say," oh I do that now." They don't understand the extent of the memory lapse . I lose my train of thought constantly. It's frustrating. Hope it gets better :)

      almost 4 years ago
    • myb's Avatar

      I create lists, lots of lists! If I am out, I send myself a txt or email to remember.

      almost 4 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      We've been using date books and a master calendar for the last 2 years, and it does help. though I have been known to say "oh i have to x at 10:00, and at 10:30 realize I've forgotten". I also try to do crossword and other puzzles to keep my brain sharp, but I must admit I feel like it's a losing battle some days.

      almost 4 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      How did I survive before yellow stickies? They dot our counters, refrigerator, and my pockets like a flock of butterflies. I keep a big sticky pad on the refrigerator that is my shopping list. I call myself and record important things on my cell phone that I need to remember when I am out and about.

      almost 4 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      Been an air-headed ditz most of my life so that's not new with me. Write on the calendar? I don't look at the calendar. Keep a journal-like list of things to do/people to call etc.? Forget to look at that too.

      Best thing for me is to use the 3"x3" post it notes on the bathroom mirror.
      Somehow, even though I scare myself now, I look in the bathroom mirror every day. And I see the note. (Hint: neon color is even better than the traditional yellow).

      almost 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Well so far, I learned 2 things from your responses that I think will be improvements for me.

      Sticky notes. I use them but the problem is most of the time I don't remember where I put them. I'm debating now about putting all of them in one place (e.g. the calender,fridge, bathroom mirror) or putting them wherever they apply (e.g. front door, coffee pot, closet, etc.)

      The other thing is emailing myself reminders. I don't have texting capability or an internet phone, but I do check my email frequently from home at least. This would only work for me for very short term things though since after a couple of hours, an email would be buried below the first page of my inbox.

      I do keep an small note pad with attached pen in my purse for making myself reminders while I am out, but sometimes I forget to look at them once I get back home. Thinking maybe I need a sticky note on the outside of my purse to remind me to look at the notepad inside it.

      almost 4 years ago
    • moonmaiden's Avatar

      Even before chemo brain I had to start writing things down because I just plain had too much to remember and would get overwhelmed trying to decide what to do. I wound up just making up a list of things that I do weekly, and composed a printable list of tasks to check off, plus various blanks to fill in extra stuff. It saves me some time on sitting down every morning trying to plan a day. I own a business, so some of the blanks involve things like "place orders", "process shipments", and "book work" that need to be done plus any tasks that I have to do every week, and on the household side I break my work down into tasks on a room by room basis and check them off so I can see progress. Then I have blanks for things like "errands" (including things like playing hooky and going to lunch with friends etc.) and "home improvement projects" where I might work on something I don't do around the house on a weekly basis, and plan a short term project for the week that I can check off as home improvement. I use a calendar for the doctor's appt's and other appt's, but also write all that on the errands list as well so it will prompt me to pay attention to the calendar. I print off a batch of these lists on both sides, and just pull out one of the lists, write the dates covered from Sunday to Saturday, fill in the stuff that has to be added, and check off stuff as I do it. I keep it in one spot on my desk and go back to refer to it, it's not like I'm not at my desk on a regular basis, I'm there right now with a list bugging me to get up and tend to it :) I also tend to use them to write down things like phone #'s or things like having to call the insurance people and such. When both sides of the paper are filled I file it away as a sort of diary of how I've been spending my time, and to refer to for things like future orders, phone numbers and things of that sort. Mine takes the form of a list of goals that I want to take care of by the end of the week, but if you have a really serious issue with chemo brain you could even write the list in the form of a table with various tasks assigned to various days of the week when you are most likely to do them.
      I keep my meds in a week long pill box, to keep me sorted out on whether I remembered to take my meds any given day, and it helps me to figure out what day of the week it even is by leaving the "used" slots opened until time to fill it. The last day used remains open after filling to help me keep track of the days.
      "An untapped market for tools for the chemo brain impaired" sounds like a business plan to me, might be something for you to think on if your energy permits. Looks like "lists" and "sticky notes" are at the top of everyone's chemo brain lists, wonder what other tools are available to help with things like short term memory issues? I forget my pills some days, maybe a pill box with some kind of alarm on it? For me chemo brain seems to be temporary for a couple of weeks at the moment, I hope it isn't cumulative over the long term, I had a hard enough time concentrating even before that, but it certainly does seem more bothersome for a couple weeks after chemo, along with mood swings and other issues.

      almost 4 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      This is a tough side effect for sure. I'm not perfect, but I do keep a standard calendar now.. the knd you write on instead of on the computer. Also, doing puzzles and mind challenging games helps. But, what I find most helpful is exercises and dance. Somehow the connection and challenge of using the brain to control the motor coordination of the body, leaves me sharper mentally. A true test was when I couldn't exercise for a week due to flu, the old side effects came right back. I'm sure a neuro scientist can explain why this works, but I know it just does! It helps keep the neuro pathways open and helps memory. I think even if physically impaired we can find ways!

      almost 4 years ago
    • moonmaiden's Avatar

      Debco, that's a good point about exercise and dance, I know I feel a lot perkier if I get up and dance like nobody is watching once in a while, and it's something almost anyone can do to one extent or another even if you only sit there and hand jive. Maybe also yoga or tai chi for concentration and focus. I've been having trouble with balance and coordination lately though, so haven't really approached that. It's a good thought though. Does anybody know of any exercise videos that focus on compensating for things like balance or other physical issues?
      I'm getting my next chemo on Thursday this week, very thankful that my "good" week out of the three week cycle falls on the holiday week before it all starts again. Going to spend Christmas day on a hike with a friend, that ought to help blow out a few of the cobwebs, heaven only knows I could do with an airing out, just hope I can keep up. I'm definitely feeling the effects of too much inactivity lately.

      I see a lot of references to word games and such to challenge the mind, maybe memory games would be good? Like one of those Simon games? That one is memory + coordination. I have half a mind to go to a toy store and look for one in the holiday aftermath.
      I haven't really approached word games, but then I write a lot. Maybe "journaling" should go on the list?

      almost 4 years ago
    • carolchristao's Avatar

      @nancyjac I use alarms on my phone to help with that. When I create the alarm, I write what it relates too: meds, bills, appointments, whatever I need to do. I also created alarms for helping reminding about water. I just forget to drink water. I also lost my short term memory... and the long one too. Remember a name become so hard.

      almost 4 years ago
    • MarnieC's Avatar

      I wrote a whole article about it (love your "tool" as well!
      Hope it helps someone!

      almost 4 years ago
    • Kossmore's Avatar

      This link is about ADD but most of it also applies to "chemo brain"

      almost 4 years ago

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