Although this interview with Nicole Anderson of UofT is for the aged coping with mild cognitive impairment, applies equally well to those of us coping with chemo brain. Suggested coping strategies:
There are a number of them. One, for remembering things in the future, involves regularly using a Day-Timer or a personal digital assistant. A lot of older adults just have the fridge calendar at home. It’s a problem because it’s at home — it’s not with them when their friend says, “Let’s have lunch next week,” or the doctor says, “Let’s schedule a new appointment.”
We really encourage people to carry a memory book with them at all times, including a section for making notes and lists, a calendar, a phone book, a to-do list and essentials like a record of their medications. It absolutely helps. There’s research going on here that when you train people with profound amnesia to use devices like an iPhone they can live independently.
Another memory strategy is spaced retrieval. That involves repeating a word or phrase, then waiting a few seconds, then waiting a few more, and then waiting a few more before each repetition.
That way, you’re putting what you want to remember into long-term memory and pulling it out again.
A big problem with memory is that we don’t pay attention. So, what most of these strategies are doing is forcing us to pay attention. Another way to do that is to say out loud, “I’m going to go into the other room and get my book,” when that’s what you plan to do. Then, imagine yourself walking into the room and picking up the book. That forces you to pay attention to your intention and solidifies it in memory.