The Best Books for Caregivers in 2018
8 titles ranging from memoir to practical how-to
(This article originally appeared on Caring.com.)
Family caregivers selflessly care for their vulnerable loved ones, often without accolades or even thanks. From budgetary constraints to emotional stress, caring for an aging loved one can stretch you beyond what you think you’re capable of handling.
As isolating as this role can sometimes be, it’s essential to remember that you’re not alone. There are a wealth of resources available to help you ensure your loved one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being without compromising your own.
Below, Caring.com has compiled a list of this year’s best caregiving-related books, in no particular order. The roundup includes stories from caregivers who’ve been there, encouraging news on the latest breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s disease treatment and practical how-to guides for anyone caring for an elderly person. Caregiving can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your lifetime, but it can also be physically, emotionally and mentally draining. To help you give the best care possible to your parent or other loved one, read one or all of these informational and inspirational best books.
1. The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself
by Linda Abbit
The Conscious Caregiver should be on everyone’s list of most helpful books for caregivers. Linda Abbit, expert caregiver and founder of Tender Loving Eldercare, shares invaluable advice for gracefully handling the demanding role of caregiver. She discusses the hard work, patience and emotional stress caring for another person can cause. She also talks about how common it is for caregivers to sacrifice their own well-being for the good of another person and how doing so can be counterproductive. This compassionate guide emphasizes the importance of caring for yourself while you simultaneously care for a parent or other aged relative.
2. While They’re Still Here: A Memoir
by Patricia Williams
While They’re Still Here: A Memoir is a poignant, first-person account of a daughter who is unexpectedly thrust into the role of caregiver for her aging parents. Author Patricia Williams describes how it feels to overcome a lifetime of painful wounds caused by infidelity, opposing politics and alcoholism as she struggles to support her parents with grace and courage.
This touching book covers heavy topics while artfully incorporating just the right amount of humor and entertainment throughout. Caregivers struggling to accept the role can find comfort and wisdom in this raw and honest story.
3. My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
by Martin J. Schreiber
The grip of Alzheimer’s disease relentlessly pulls away at memories and changes those afflicted on a fundamental level. Author and former Wisconsin Governor Marty Schrieber is intimately familiar with the illness.
As the primary caregiver for his beloved wife, Elaine, Marty learned how to love and care for the "new" Elaine, even as the wife he loved so much slowly retreated. His caregiving book My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver is infused with patience, guidance and even humor as he talks about how to provide round-the-clock care to the loved one who no longer recognizes you.
4. Living With Dying: A Complete Guide for Caregivers
by Katie Ortlip and Jahnna Beecham
Living With Dying: A Complete Guide for Caregivers is one of the year’s most informative, practical books for caregivers. Authors Katie Ortlip (who is a registered nurse and RN and a licensed clinical social worker) and writer Jahnna Beecham offer easy-to-follow tips for addressing various symptoms, having tough conversations with your aging loved one and giving the best possible care.
The book also lays out steps for getting your loved one’s affairs in order and coping with the dying process without losing yourself. This down-to-earth book is full of compassionate advice designed to give caregivers hope, strength and courage to navigate one of the most emotionally and spiritually challenging responsibilities anyone can face.
5. Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging
by Melanie P. Merriman
In this book, former research scientist and hospice quality consultant Melanie Merriman delivers a raw, matter-of-fact take on one of the most universally challenging roles a person can take: that of caregiver. The author shares her personal experience to paint a stirring picture of what it’s like to guide and support a parent through old age.
With a wisdom that can only be gained by overcoming these challenges, Merriman provides current and potential caregivers with an eye-opening look into the struggles and joys that come along with this responsibility.
6. The Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic New Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias
by Dr. Gayatri Devi
Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can leave a trail of devastation in their wake, but it’s possible to find a glimmer of hope amid the gloom. The Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic New Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias provides a more positive outlook on a disease that often feels like a prison to those who have it and to their families.
Author Gayatri Devi, a neurologist with more than 20 years specializing in memory loss and dementia, offers encouragement to those with dementia and their loved ones and emphasizes the possibilities for living fulfilling lives even as the disease progresses. Topics covered in the book include maintaining independence, communication with someone who has dementia and dealing with dementia-related behaviors like paranoia.
7. A Guide for Caregiving: What’s Next? Planning for Safety, Quality, and Compassionate Care for Your Loved One and Yourself
by Tina Marrelli
Many caregivers wish their responsibilities came with a concise, comprehensive guide. A Guide for Caregiving: What’s Next? may just be the closest thing to it. Bestselling author and nurse Tina Marrelli covers almost every conceivable topic on caring for an elderly family member or friend.
From patient advocacy to end-of-life care, the book breaks down the sometimes impossibly difficult task of caring for another human being into manageable pieces. Her conversational approach makes challenging concepts more understandable for the average caregiver.
8. Caregiver Defined: Words that Honor the Work of the Caregiver
by Michael Fortuna, with illustrations by Peg Lee
“Chocolate” and “courage” are just a couple of the key words that author Michael Fortuna believes defines the life of a caregiver. His book, Caregiver Defined: Words That Honor the Work of the Caregiver takes a unique and heartfelt approach to honoring the work of family caregivers, painting a picture of the role with an inspirational collection of key words and images.
The author draws from his personal experience to present descriptions of the journey of caring for another person, accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Peg Lee. The combination makes for an inspirational tribute to the often thankless work caregivers do each day.