With thousands of retiring baby boomers, memory care is more critical than ever. But luckily, both patients and caregivers have better access to the most up-to-date literature, like these books on dementia and Alzheimer's below.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best Books for Family Members and Partners
- Best Books for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers
- Best Books for Patients with Dementia
The selection of books below offer some emotional support and education about how to provide care for a loved one diagnosed with dementia, including advice for caregiving, navigating the healthcare system, accepting memory loss, and taking care of yourself during the process.
Best Books for Family Members and Partners
Sometimes, a dementia diagnosis can feel devastating to a family member, friend, spouse, or partner. Read these books to better understand memory loss, care, and other topics in dementia.
1. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande MD
In Being Mortal, Dr. Atul Gawande describes how physicians struggle with age, fragility, and mortality. When providing memory care treatment for their patients, doctors often treat life as a destination rather than a journey.
Here, clinicians and caregivers must face a flawed medical system that treats the end-of-life inhumanely. Gawande wants you to know that he embraces medicine as a practice for the patient, not toward the prescription.
You can read our full Being Mortal review or our list of Atul Gawande books for more.
2. What Dementia Teaches Us About Love by Nicci Gerard
As Nicci Gerard helped and later learned from her father’s diagnosis with dementia, Gerard began advocating for patient and caregiver rights. She wanted to help memory care patients to be able to maintain connections with their loved ones.
Now, Gerard runs “John’s Campaign,” an organization that helps to voice the need for better care in any care setting.
3. Enduring Alzheimer’s by Michael Behrmann, Dan Fogarty, and Bruce Alan Kehr, MD
Enduring Alzheimer’s is a top-to-bottom reference guide for those of you who are memory caregivers.
Useful topics include preparing, planning, and providing for care, managing financial safety, insurance matters, and legal concerns. The author's approach seeks to address the whole patient, not just their disease.
4. Dementia Reimagined by Tia Powell, MD
Although memory research has surged, the promise of a cure is years ahead. In the process, pharmaceutical companies struggle to help patients adequately with medications that can target the elusive progression of memory loss.
With Dementia Reimagined, Powell seeks to help current memory care patients to live with purpose and dignity, and to help move today's conversation from cure to care.
5. Breakfast Memories: A Dementia Love Story by Kate Hanley
Author Kate Hanley offers an intimate peek into her life, and the care she provides for her aging mom and dad.
Her stories and snippets of her life provide both sentimental and humorous anecdotes, but she shares them with the most profound compassion for her parents. This book is especially helpful if you find that your struggle with caregiving is clouding your sentimentality.
6. Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George by Susan Straley
The first journey Susan Straley decided to take with her husband was marriage. The second was a road trip. In her blog-turned-book, the love and adventure that Susan takes with her husband accompanies both pain and struggles with dementia.
A version of the book provides thousands of pictures of their road trip. Putting faces to the charm behind their story will help you rediscover the beauty in yours.
Best Books for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers
Memory caregivers ascribe to a kind of silent, inner strength. They must recognize the person for who they were, and help them, despite what the illness has made them.
7. Dealing With Dementia by Paige Cooper, RN
Dementia is an unavoidable, cruel illness that can come out of nowhere and leave you with no way to cure it. But that's only part of the truth.
If you are providing a loved one with memory care, Cooper's book can help prepare you for the journey ahead.
8. My Two Elaines by Martin J. Schreiber
Schreiber has said, "The tragedy about this is, at the moment, there's not the hope that things can be made better...You cannot compromise with this disease."
Throughout My Two Elaines, you find Schreiber’s response as a husband and shift from political careerist to caring for a wife with Alzheimer's as truly unique. His candidness in revealing shortcomings and failures is refreshing but heartbreaking.
9. Caring for the People of the Clouds by Jonathan Yahalom
Like many long-established cultures, the Zapotec and Mixtec community of Oaxaca revere their elders. Despite and through their illnesses, families love and care for them.
Dementia and other forms of memory loss are just natural parts of the aging process. That said, there is a familiarity of a family's inherently struggle with the stigmas of the disease.
10. Dementia With Dignity by Judy Cornish
The DAWN Method offers a new approach to memory care. The author, Judy Cornish, provides many tools and techniques to deal with lost skills, emotions, hygiene, and emotional wellbeing.
After reading the book, you can also go online to receive updates to the method by signing up for an online subscription to explore more in-depth, real-life examples.
11. Coffee With Mom by Mike Glenn
Coffee With Mom chronicles the late stages of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia melee. As son and caregiver, author Mike Glenn doesn't gloss over the realities, struggles, or fights. Instead, he struggles to find ways to support his ailing mother, which makes their story authentic and touching.
12. Moving a Relative & Other Transitions in Dementia Care by Laurie White and Beth Spencer
In one segment of the book, we hear about how Nancy’s mom was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, and its transition to Alzheimer’s disease. Nancy noticed her mom had stopped eating, bathing, and being able to care for herself or her home.
This book provides stories like these as well as great checklists to help you understand when you need to find help.
Best Books for Patients with Dementia
The following six books have been written a patient, in mind. Whether you want some advice, answers, or relief, one of these books should help you find the help you need.
13. Dancing With Elephants by Jarem Sawatsky, PhD
Chronic conditions affect our entire existence. Author Jarem Sawatsky shares his own candid approach to joy by refusing the route of anger and depression.
Several renowned chronic disease experts add a depth of credibility to Sawatsky's story. Hopefully, you will gain some insight into your own path.
14. Fighting For My Life by Jamie TenNapel Tyrone and Marwan Noel Sabbagh, MD, FAAN
Genetic testing makes it possible to detect predispositions for the development of Alzheimer's Disease. However, the testing is not 100 percent definitive.
But, if you are concerned about genetic dispositions, then Fighting For My Life may help you manage the road ahead, with additional resources and guidance.
15. The ABCs of Dementia: A Reference Guide to Your Personal Dementia Waltz by Tammy Thompson, CDP
Do you need help or advice on how to manage your memory care disease? The ABCs of Dementia is your quick, alphabetical reference guide.
The paired stories and information confirm your needs for respect, patience, and compassion. Keep this memory care reference on hand to help every step of the way.
16. Defeating Dementia by Francis C. McNear
Defeating Dementia is a must-read. Well-respected by many, the author finds little penchant for exaggeration.
Instead, what you will find is plenty of helpful references and information. Without any excessive blathering, you may find just the right help for you or your loved ones.
17. Lewy Body Dementia by Jerry Beller
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a cognitive disease leading to memory, movement, and mood disorders. No exact cause has been found for LBD, but it can be treated with medication, physical therapy, and counseling.
Consider this book if you are seeking a manual, rather than management.
19. Seven Steps to Managing Your Memory: What’s Normal, What’s Not, and What to Do About It by Andrew E. Budson, MD, and Maureen K. O’Connor, PsyD
Seven Steps is a recommended book if you have concerns about any memory problems you may be experiencing. The doctors turned authors explain and address common questions about memory associated with age, and then offer practical but informative advice.
This will help you to know when and from whom you need to seek medical help.
Memory Care is Part of Life’s Journey
Memory loss doesn't have to be an end-of-life destination. As noted with all the books listed above, many folks have found their own small journeys to take when battling memory loss.
Family members, partners, and patients can all find some hope in the multitude of examples provided to transform what is sometimes seen as a difficult diagnosis into a life of dignity, grace, and support.
If you're looking for more recommendations, check out our picks for the best books on grief, the best life-changing books, and books about hospice and palliative care.