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Many talented writers have written about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. My wife, Sheryl, and I both enjoy reading, and we have discovered some helpful books for Alzheimer’s caregivers. We plan to review a variety of books on this site, including fiction, memoirs, and books for children.
Today, I want to share four of my favorite nonfiction books for Alzheimer’s caregivers. Each of the following has been particularly meaningful to me.
“Contented Dementia” by Oliver James
James is a popular journalist in England, writing primarily for “The Guardian” and “The Observer.” He wrote “Contented Dementia” to describe the work of SPECAL (Specialized Early Care for Alzheimer’s), a charity founded by his mother-in-law, Penny Garner.
Garner’s approach is positive, proactive, and person-centered. James does an excellent job sharing Garner’s story, describing how she developed the SPECAL method. He also explains in detail each component of her care program. For more information about SPECAL, check out the Contented Dementia Trust website.
Amazon Product Link: Contented Dementia
“Creating Moments of Joy” by Jolene Brackey
If I could keep only one book about Alzheimer’s caregiving, this would be it. Brackey’s book is practical, positive, and very thorough. You can read it straight through, or just keep it handy as a reference.
Be sure to look for the revised and expanded fifth edition published in 2017. You may order the book and other products through Brackey’s EnhancedMoments.com website. The site offers discounts if ordering 10 or more books. I point this out because this is the kind of book you might want to gift to friends and family.
Amazon Product Link: Creating Moments of Joy, Fifth Edition, Revised and Expanded
“Loving Someone Who Has Dementia” by Pauline Boss, Ph.D.
Sheryl and I both read this book at a time when we really needed to hear its message. We had been caring for my mother-in-law, Trish, for many years. Trish was safe and we had adapted to a new routine. But something was bothering us.
Reading this book helped us realize that we were grieving. We were experiencing what Boss calls “ambiguous loss,” a loss that is unclear and has no resolution or closure. When you care for someone who has dementia, you feel loss, but others don’t respond to your loss in the same way as when a person dies. The grief is real, but it is complicated. Boss helped us identify what we were experiencing and gave us helpful tips on managing grief and stress.
Amazon Product Link: Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief
“Dementia Reimagined” by Tia Powell, M.D.
This book was published in 2019 and was released in paperback on Sept. 1, 2020. Powell is a professor of psychiatry and bioethics and directs the Montefiore Einstein Center for Bioethics. So, yes, she is an academic, and she expertly navigates discussions of science and medicine. But she also shares personal stories and feelings, helping readers think honestly about living with dementia.
I would recommend this book just for Powell’s thorough and thoughtful account of the history of dementia research. Read it to learn about Solomon Carter Fuller, an African-American physician scientist who studied under Alois Alzheimer. Fuller’s story combines with Powell’s own story, both teaching us about the preservation of dignity and hope.
Amazon Product Link: Dementia Reimagined: Building a Life of Joy and Dignity from Beginning to End