14 Books on Taking Care of (or Understanding) Aging Parents

Updated

Certified Care Manager, Aging Life Care Professional, and National Master Guardian Emeritus

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Having physical books to thumb through, highlight, or mark up can support you when navigating caregiving and communicating with your parents. You may just be beginning to become more involved in your parent’s life. Or, you may be well into caregiving tasks and learning how to deal with resistant behavior and attitudes.

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The great thing about books on aging and caregiving is that the authors have either been through what you are experiencing or have done extensive research on a particular topic. You can refer back to books repeatedly to refresh your memory or to review some new information that wasn’t relevant at the time but is now. Some of the books we discuss overlap topics and issues, while some are more focused on a particular idea like coping with Alzheimer’s disease. 

You may have a specific style that you prefer, such as a humorous or spiritual approach. There are also options that focus on practical step-by-step instruction if that is your cup of tea. Hopefully the books can provide a jumping off point to help you explore other books, as there are other gems out there as well. If you choose not to purchase a book, many of these might be available at your local library.

Popular Books on Caring for Aging Parents

Caring for aging parents is a broad topic since it covers so many aspects of what it takes to care for aging parents. Some authors discuss all of the aging parent checklists, such as advance planning tasks you need to complete, along with an understanding of self-care and definitions of terms and end-of-life care. Like with all stages of life, caring for aging parents can be complicated.


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1. The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book) by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins

The 36-Hour Day is a number one best-selling book that helps family caregivers cope with loved ones who have dementia. This book provides hands-on advice alongside suggested advance and pre-planning documents to have in place. 

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2. How to Care for Aging Parents (A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues) by Virginia Morris

How to Care for Aging Parents is now in its third edition. This book covers all aspects of caring for aging parents and is backed by AARP. The reviews come from reputable news sources, and if there is one book that does it all, it is probably this one. 

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3. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande 

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is not a caregiving book. Rather, it is a thoughtful take on death and the dying process and our current medical system’s mishandling of aging and dying. Gawande’s book is a must-read that has the number one bestseller bonafides to prove it. This book can give you a new perspective on death and dying and what is important at the end of life. 

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4. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir by Roz Chast

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is by the famed New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. She explores her personal experience with her parents and talks about adult children accepting a parental role, dealing with awkward physical intimacies, managing logistics, and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care. You will laugh a lot and cry a little too.

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5. The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) by Martha Davis, PhD; Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, MSW; and Matthew McKay, PhD

It is important for all caregivers to find moments to relax and destress. We recommend The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook for those focused on caring for aging parents. Caregivers experiencing stress may find some solid tips in The Relaxation and Stress Workbook, which is in its eighth printing and is considered one of the best stress-reduction books available.

It is also published by New Harbinger Publications, a publishing house focused on providing valuable advice and content recommended by therapists. As a caregiver, you will be glad to have this book. 

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Popular Books on Living With Aging Parents

Finding books specifically about living with aging parents could be a challenge. But a few books cover the issues that are likely to come up when living with aging parents. Online articles and blog posts about living with aging parents abound, so you may find that those are more helpful than books. 


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6. A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents—and Ourselves by Jane Gross 

A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents--and Ourselves is a personal story that Jane Gross tells about her mother’s decline. Gross is known as a well-respected health reporter and contributor to the New York Times Old Age Blog. 

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7. When Your Parent Moves In: Every Adult Child's Guide to Living with an Aging Parent by David Horgan and Shira Block

When Your Parent Moves In: Every Adult Child's Guide to Living with an Aging Parent is one of the few books on this topic. David Horgan is an award-winning medical educator, filmmaker, and director and has been interviewed by numerous publications about this subject. 

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8. Showering With Nana: Confessions of a Serial Caregiver by Cathy Sikorski

Yes, it is an unusual title but the title catches your attention. Showering With Nana is a well-received memoir written by an elder law attorney whose grandmother moves in with her and her son. This book is a humorous take on a stay-at-home mom’s experience living with her 92-year-old grandmother. 

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Popular Books on Dealing With or Understanding Aging Parents

As a caregiver, you likely realize that dealing with or understanding aging parents is almost as hard as caregiving itself. Caregiving changes the relationship dynamic between adult children and their parents. What once seemed like a perfectly normal, close relationship can start to morph into conflict, disagreements about care, negativity, and more. 

Your compassion and understanding are tested, and books on maintaining your equilibrium and coping with conflict while finding joy in caregiving can be enormously helpful. Some of these books will resonate more than others, and you may end up getting several.

9. Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer's Journey: A Guide for Families and Caregivers by Jolene Brackey

Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer’s Journey is in its fifth printing and is a bestseller on Amazon. Since many families deal with caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this book examines how you can find the positive and joyful moments in dealing with this disease. Brackey offers caregivers and families practical suggestions, including ways to use a person's history, passions, and interests to help loved ones to overcome daily struggles.

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10. The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself by Linda Abbit

The Conscious Caregiver is a compassionate guide for caregivers that can lead to finding joy in caregiving while attending to their self-care needs. Linda Abbit knows what she is talking about, having been a caregiver herself and as a community outreach manager for the innovative Mind and Memory outpatient program at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, CA.

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11. Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent: A Guide for Stressed-Out Children by Grace Lebow and Barbara Kane 

Coping with Difficult Older Parents is an older book but still sells well on Amazon. The reason? The methods the authors suggest are still applicable, as many people have experienced similar difficulties when dealing with an older parent. How to handle contentious behaviors and how to cope with negative attitudes are just a couple of the issues they cover. 

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12. Understanding Aging Parents: Help You Out Of Stressed Out From Your Difficult Aging Parents: Success Tips With Difficult Aging Parents by Valrie Sep

Understanding Aging Parents was just published in March of this year and does not have reviews yet. The kindle version is available, and the description seems spot on with advice on dealing with anger and defiance, negativity, and much more. 

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13. The Thoughtful Caregiver: Surviving, Thriving and Growing in Spirit as You Care for Your Elderly Parent by Rebecca James Hecking

Rebecca James Hecking’s book, The Thoughtful Caregiver, is a practical and spiritual guide to caregiving. Hecking’s life changed when her older father fell, and she became a caregiver for both parents for several years. 

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14. Alzheimer's Through the Stages: A Caregiver's Guide by Mary Moller, MSW, CAS

We have added the book Alzheimer's Through the Stages: A Caregiver's Guide for those who may be or may become a caregiver for an aging parent with some form of dementia. This book has received rave reviews. Understanding the stages of Alzheimer’s disease can give you insight on what to expect and how to prepare.

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Books on Taking Care of or Understanding Aging Parents

Support in caring for an aging parent takes many forms. Books can provide a foundation of knowledge, spiritual guidance, and practical advice. Explore our suggestions and take heart in the many people who share in your caregiving journey.

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