Books for caregivers are an excellent resource when taking care of a loved one. Whether you’re caring for an aging parent or family member with dementia, it can be incredibly challenging, especially when you’re unsure where to start. Educating yourself is an invaluable part of becoming a caregiver. Learning as much as you can about caring for an aging person will help you understand why they’re behaving the way they are—and what you can do about it.
From handbooks to Alzheimer’s-specific reads, we’ve compiled a list of six must-read books for caregivers.
Nonfiction Books for Caregivers
These books for caregivers are about the realities of aging: what it means, how it happens, and how to handle it without losing yourself in the process.
1. The Caregiver’s Survival Handbook: How to Care for Your Aging Parent Without Losing Yourself by Alexis Abramson
This book is a must-read for caregivers. Author Alexis Abramson speaks directly to women struggling to balance their careers, families, and caring for their parent(s). This no-nonsense book talks about dealing with guilt, getting help from family, developing patience and ultimately finding balance within your new normal.
2. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast is at her best in this memoir, which discusses her aging parents with empathy and mirth in equal parts. The book covers the last few years of their lives. It’s told through a combination of cartoons, family photos and documents—and it’s the perfect combination of comfort and comedy for anyone dealing with aging parents.
Fiction Books for Caregivers
Sometimes a great plotline is all you need, especially at the beginning of your caregiving journey. These books tell stories of families and aging from the perspective of the person that it’s happening to—a point of view that’s incredibly valuable for caregivers to consider.
3. 29: A Novel by Adena Halpern
This book spans three generations of women; Ellie, a 75-year old grandma, Barbara, her 55-year old daughter, and Lucy, the 29-year old granddaughter. Ellie is young at heart and feels like she connects more with Lucy than her own daughter, Barbara. As such, on her 75th birthday, Ellie wishes she could be 29 again, even for just one day. When the wish comes true, hijinx ensue. Each woman questions their journey and decisions throughout this heartwarming tale.
4. Unsheltered by Barbara Kingslover
Unsheltered is a story about a multigenerational family fallen on hard times, juxtaposed with the family that lived in the same home two centuries earlier. The caregiving element comes in with one of the main characters, Willa, a member of the sandwich generation who’s living with a grandchild, child, and her prickly father-in-law. Though she and her father-in-law don’t always get along, the narrative beautifully unravels what it’s like to care for and love a member of a different generation, even through challenging periods.
The multiple storylines also serve as a lovely escape from your everyday life, as only good fiction novels can.
Alzheimer’s Books for Caregivers
More than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and 10 percent of people over the age of 65 suffer from the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. These Alzheimer’s books for caregivers discuss the specifics of the condition and how caregivers can best equip themselves to handle it.
5. The 36-Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace, MA, and Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH
This care guide is full of practical information and tips on living with and caring for someone with dementia. It also contains a useful guide for family members to understand and cope with what’s happening and their own emotions. The book includes helpful devices, strategies for delaying behavioral symptoms, changes in health care insurance laws and support group information for caregivers.
6. Surviving Alzheimer’s: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers by Paula Spencer Scott
This fantastic book discusses something incredibly important to caregivers: how to help without sacrificing your sanity. The author breaks down the frustrating behaviors and focuses on defusing resentment, guilt, anger, and the inevitable family friction that will arise as caregivers navigate this journey. It also includes stories and anecdotes from real families. The best part? The easily scannable format makes it easy to refer to when you’re in the middle of an issue.
Caring for Your Older Loved Ones
Though caring for an aging family member is difficult, these books not only offer knowledge but can make you feel less alone.