Learning about dementia makes caregiving easier

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is a tough challenge.

Plus, many of the most effective care and communication techniques are not easily figured out and might even go against our intuition.

Not knowing these helpful techniques can cause added frustration and stress for both you and your older adult.

That’s why educating yourself is so important.

Learning as much as you can about the disease helps you solve everyday issues and improves quality of life for both of you.

To make caring for your older adult a little easier, we rounded up 9 top Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving books that are helpful for both new and experienced caregivers.

They’re praised and recommended by experts and family caregivers alike.

9 must-read Alzheimer’s books for caregivers

These 9 books help with practical care tasks, explain how to manage challenging dementia symptoms, share tips for coping with stress, give ideas for realistic and engaging activities, and share personal stories.


1. The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease and Other Dementias, 7th Edition (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book)

For 40 years, The 36-Hour Day has been the leading work in the field for caregivers of those with dementia. Written by experts with decades of experience caring for individuals with memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and other dementias, the book is widely known for its authoritativeness and compassionate approach to care. Featuring everything from the causes of dementia to managing its early stages to advice on caring for those in the later stages of the disease, it is widely considered to be the most detailed and trusted book available.

It’s a care guide that has practical tips and information to improve the lives of people with dementia and also to help caregivers cope with their own emotions and needs.

The latest edition also includes new info on:

  • Devices to make life simpler and safer for people who have dementia
  • Practical advice for avoiding caregiver burnout-plus tips for when and how to get additional help.
  • Strategies for delaying behavioral and neuropsychiatric symptoms
  • Changes in Medicare and other health care insurance laws
  • Palliative care, hospice care, durable power of attorney, and guardianship
  • Dementia due to traumatic brain injury
  • Choosing a residential care facility
  • Support groups for caregivers, friends, and family members

What caregivers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“Recommended to me by a neuropsychiatrist treating family member. A good guide for those dealing with someone with dementia. It gives good guidelines as to what to expect, how to deal with it and plans for the inevitable future consequence of this disease.”

“I first purchased this book about 23 years ago when I was caring for my mother who had dementia. It helped me greatly. My niece is now caring for another relative with dementia and I decided to purchase the updated version for her and one for me also. It is very, very helpful.”

“Very helpful in understanding what’s going on if you have a loved one beginning to show signs of dementia. Also helps families to understand the issues they will be dealing with as a family, the strains it can place on families, and how to try to mitigate them and how to avoid letting your loved one’s dementia tear your family apart. That’s what’s been the most helpful for me, that and knowing that the behaviors aren’t on purpose or something the person can control, so you can be prepared to not take it personally or overreact. A good resource, I’m glad my family found it.”
See more reviews or buy The 36-Hour Day


2. Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease, by Joanne Koenig Coste
Joanne Koenig Coste has a practical approach to the emotional well-being of both the person with dementia and their caregiver.

She emphasizes relating to people with dementia in their own reality and focuses on improving communication – proven successful with thousands of people living with dementia.

This book also offers hundreds of practical tips, including how to:

  • Cope with the diagnosis and adjust to the disease’s progression
  • Help the patient talk about the illness
  • Face the issue of driving
  • Make meals and bath times as pleasant as possible
  • Adjust room design for the patient’s comfort
  • Deal with wandering, paranoia, and aggression

What caregivers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“A really nice reference for all stages of Alzheimer’s. I appreciate the “to the point” talk and suggestions and feel much better approaching challenges of being a caregiver.”

“Written by someone who knows from experience what a caregiver’s life entails. She gives so many practical hints for making life better for the caregiver and the one with dementia.”

“This is an excellent book to help understand how to care for someone with dementia. I highly recommend it. It is eye-opening and invaluable for helping and interacting with someone who has dementia. And it will allow the caregivers/family members to have a far more enriched relationship with the dementia sufferer. I strongly believe that this helps me and my sisters improve the quality of our father’s life.”
See more reviews or buy Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s


3. Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer’s Journey: A Guide for Families and Caregivers, 5th edition, by Jolene Brackey
Jolene Brackey’s vision is that we’ll focus on creating moments of joy that put a smile on their face or a twinkle in their eyes. Even if they won’t remember what we said or did, the positive feelings will stay with them.

The newest edition of this book is filled with even more practical advice sprinkled with hope, encouragement, new stories, and humor.

What caregivers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“Good book for caregivers and families of those with Alzheimer’s. I like that the book has questions/scenarios so you can quickly read about the different daily occurring topics, which are right on for our family.”

“This book has made me laugh out loud during moments when I felt like sobbing. I am the primary caregiver for my Mom; I have two sisters who are here for Mom and for me as much as they can be. Reading this has helped me create moments of joy for all of us. I AM the nutty caregiver the author urges us to be. Nothing is too outrageous to say or do in order to make Mom laugh. I have let go of my inhibitions; I have let go of my preconceived notions of how I think Mom should act; I have let go of the thought that I know what’s best for her to eat or wear.”

“Good book, helped me do things with my mom that brought her joy. I am so happy I read this and implemented some of the ideas in it because she died six months after I bought the book,and I am SO HAPPY that I was able to bring her joy in her last months of life. She was so confused and angry and depressed about her dementia, and the ideas in here made her forget about it, even if only for a little while…”
See more reviews or buy Creating Moments of Joy


4. Surviving Alzheimer’s: Practical tips and soul-saving wisdom for caregivers, by Paula Spencer Scott

This new edition of Surviving Alzheimer’s offers the best, most current thinking on how to help a loved one with memory loss and related symptoms without sacrificing YOU. You’ll learn:

  • What’s behind odd, frustrating behaviors like repetition, wandering, personality changes, bathing resistance, and aggression—and what you can do
  • How to defuse resentment, guilt, and family friction
  • What to say for better communication and more cooperation
  • Special advice for spouses, out-of-town caregivers, and other specific situations
  • 100s of confidence-raising solutions from top doctors, social workers, dementia specialists, and family caregivers
  • All in a fast, scannable format perfect for busy or overwhelmed dementia helpers.

What caregivers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“An excellent and extremely helpful book for anyone caring for someone with dementia. It has helped me and my sisters improve the quality of our father’s life as he is being affected by this cruel disease. It has also helped us improve the quality of OUR interaction with him, learning how best to communicate with him, and learning how to keep him engaged and focused as much as possible. Truly remarkable!”

“This book has save me from so much stress and help figure things I wasn’t aware my mother was suffering from. You learn the code to speak with them…”

“Love the format – quick and easy to look up a symptom and find reassuring advice.”
See more reviews or buy Surviving Alzheimer’s


5. Thoughtful Dementia Care: Understanding the Dementia Experience, by Jennifer Ghent-Fuller
Jennifer Ghent-Fuller explains the loss of different types of memory and other thinking processes and describes how that affects someone’s daily life and their understanding of the world around them.

She also shares practical suggestions based on the way people with dementia view common life situations and real-life experiences that clarify and deepen the explanations.

What caregivers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“READ this book! You will understand why your loved one seems perfectly fine on the phone to those who don’t live with them when you know perfectly well that they aren’t fine. It will help you change your approach and lessen the stress all the way around. It’s an easy read, too.”

“I recently became a caregiver for my father who has Alzheimer’s Disease and didn’t understand what he is going through cognitively or why I was getting so stressed out until I began reading this book. I highly recommend it to others who have loved ones with dementia or who, like me , find themselves suddenly thrust into the role of caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer’s.”

“Concise and to the point, lots of great creative suggestions. Seeing my problems discussed in this book helped validate my experience and bolstered my feelings of a tough job well done. The author shows you how to see things from the patient’s viewpoint, which enables novel solutions to otherwise perplexing problems.”
See more reviews or buy Thoughtful Dementia Care: Understanding the Dementia Experience


6. Activities to do with Your Parent who has Alzheimer’s Dementia, by Judith A. Levy EdM OTR
Everyone needs to feel engaged & entertained. But finding activities that someone with dementia can enjoy is a constant challenge.

The activities in this book help maintain your older adult’s self-care skills, mobility, and socialization. The tasks encourage success, boost self-esteem, and give you different opportunities to interact with your older adult.

The book also includes:

  • Over 50 activity ideas with suggestions on how to do them
  • Caregiver burnout prevention ideas
  • Alzheimer’s dementia support sources
  • Room by room safety suggestions
  • Home and personal safety assessment
  • Definitions of frequently used medical terms

What caregivers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“Great ideas with good background on why these activities are beneficial cognitively and emotionally.”

“…As you know, it’s so difficult to keep up a positive, cheerful attitude when faced with the never ending task of caring for my mother. The most important thing for us is to keep my mother as happy and healthy as possible and these suggestions are just what we needed.”

“This is a great book. Each chapter is a quick read. I love that she explains why this activity- what it does for the person doing it. She also gives insight about what she saw with her own Mother while doing the activities. At the end of each quick read chapter there is an assessment page so you can keep notes on how your loved one responded. It is a well thought out book and I recommend it for anyone who has a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s.”
See more reviews or buy Activities to Do with Your Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s Dementia


7. The Dementia Handbook: How to Provide Dementia Care at Home, by Judy Cornish
Judy Cornish is the founder of the Dementia & Alzheimer’s Wellbeing Network® (DAWN). She approaches dementia care with clear and empathetic methods that improve the lives of the person with dementia and those caring for them.

Judy has identified a pattern in the abilities and disabilities of people living with dementia. Based on this, she developed methods for caregivers to ease emotional distress, which can quickly and safely resolve challenging behaviors.

What caregivers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“This book has such an unique simple way to explain how to handle some of the common problems that arise in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and how to handle them with the least amount of resistance.”

“I got more useful information and strategies for dealing with dementia from this book than I have from any physician. I highly recommend this book.”

“Good examples of how to deal with all kinds of situations. Very practical advice you can start using right now.”
See more reviews or buy The Dementia Handbook: How to Provide Dementia Care at Home


8. When Reasoning No Longer Works: A Practical Guide for Caregivers Dealing with Dementia & Alzheimer’s Care, by Angel Smits
Angel Smits is a gerontologist with over 20 years of experience and wrote this book to be like a training manual for family caregivers caring for someone with dementia.

It gives an easy-to-understand view of what dementia does to the brain, how it’s diagnosed, and most importantly, how to deal with its effects.

Topics include:

  • How to avoid a catastrophic reaction
  • Specific approaches for aggressive behavior
  • How to deal with disruptive behaviors
  • Ways to diminish wandering
  • What to do when a wanderer is missing
  • When to look for outside help

What caregivers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“Being a retired nurse, I thought I may know how to comfort & care for my mother. Not so ! This book is so helpful in all aspects. A very easy read. i didnt want to put it down! THANKS to Ms Angel Smits, I feel I have learned how to deal in more situations without upsetting Mother any more.”

“We are 3 years into our Alzheimer’s journey with my father. This book was so helpful for all of us on his caregiving team. It is easy to read, interesting, and give you good understanding of how the patient is seeing the world and how that is so totally different that a “healthy brain”…which can exacerbate A LOT of situations and cause MANY CATASTROPHIC REACTIONS. I highly recommend this book for anyone on the caregiver team!”

“Excellent, simple, concrete information when needed. Easy to read. There is a “story” at the beginning of each chapter and the ‘solutions’ afterward about how things could have been handled better.”
See more reviews or buy When Reasoning No Longer Works: A Practical Guide for Caregivers Dealing with Dementia & Alzheimer’s Care


9. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias: 101 Stories of Caregiving, Coping, and Compassion, by Amy Newmark
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can make you feel lonely and isolated but you’re definitely not alone in this.

This book has 101 encouraging and inspiring stories by caregivers like you. It’s a wonderful source of support and encouragement throughout the caregiving journey.

What caregivers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“Alzheimer support group meets monthly, so Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s is a good boost/support in between meetings.”

“My mother has had dementia for a couple years now and she found that reading about other people’s experience helps.”

“Great stories of real people and how they deal with dementia.”

“Thoughtful and supportive stories for those like me who are caring for a family member who has advanced dementia. It’s hopeful and positive, sad sometimes, uplifting frequently.“
See more reviews or buy Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias

By the Daily Care Editorial Team

Images: Shutterstock and Subject Books

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