Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Caregiving – Best Books to Read for Alzheimer’s Caregivers or Family Members

Alzheimer’s – Book Reviews

When we learn that our loved one has Alzheimer’s we have a thirst to know what it means for them– and us. Will our lives change? How will we handle it? And will our loved one die from this horrible disease?

Below are a few of the books from a recommended reading list about Alzheimer’s Disease.


Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s -

by Joanne Koenig Coste

More than four million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and as many as twenty million have close relatives or friends with the
disease. Revolutionizing the way we perceive and live with Alzheimer’s, Joanne Koenig Coste offers a practical approach to the emotional well-being of both patients and caregivers that emphasizes relating to patients in their own reality.

Her accessible and comprehensive method, which she calls habilitation, works to enhance communication between carepartners and patients and has proven successful with thousands of people living with dementia.

Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s 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

Read the First Chapter FREE Below





The 36 Hour Day -

Nancy L. Mace, M.A. and Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.

At approx 350 pages, this book is similar to an encyclopedia rather than the usual guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver. I wish I had found it sooner, as I was caring for my own mother. It’s actually amazing that it was first published in 1981, but consistently updated with all the changes in knowledge about Alzheimer’s in all those years. So there is nothing outdated about this book. It is current in evaluations of the patient as well as suggestions for care and tolerance on the part of the caregiver.

It opens with the definition of Dementia and the causes, such as Alzheimer’s. The Patient evaluation and decisions about Medical Treatment are the first subjects tackled. Then Characteristic Problems are discussed. which include Behavior and Personality. Some of the “why’s” they do what they do. It’s good to learn this information early. Generally, if the caregiver has not done their reading, they are typically overreacting to the strange behaviors and often combativeness of the Alzheimer’s patient.

From Problems with independent living in the early stages to behavior and mood swings in the middle stage, and then medical problems and nursing home care in the final stagesThe 36 Hour Day helps the family (caregiver) cope with the illness, patient, and their own issues so they learn the best way to take care of themselves as well as their loved one with Alzheimer’s.

This books offers information about The Alzheimer’s Associaton, Support Groups, Financial Assistance, Legal Matters and other Resources. And the list goes on and on. If you need to know about Alzheimer’s, the care and assistance of a suffering patient and the Care that’s needed by the Caregiver himself–this book covers it all.


The Forgetting – Alzheimer’s Portrait of an Epidemic

David Shenk

This was the first book I read after learning my Mom’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I was stunned to learn the long history of the disease and how little research had been down to slow it down or cure it.

“The Forgetting” allows you to follow a  select group of  people who are newly diagnosed but show few symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the beginning. I was startled to watch their decline and the denial that seeps in like a slow virus as they no longer accept what is happening to them. I cried–knowing that would be my own Mom’s future. And true to their story, my own Mom did the same.

It was stunning to watch their thought process deteriorate as they drifted further into the disease and eventually into denial of their very diagnosis.  No other book has given me the insight as this one, especially following that lovely group of people through the stages to their eventual confinement in nursing homes. It gave me such pause, I think, because as I read the book, my own Mom was following in their footsteps.

I’ve read many many books on this subject since my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimers, always hoping to learn “why” or “what” this horrible disease was doing to her brain as well as her thoughts and behaviors. I knew it was taking my Mom away, but I wanted to know more!

And this book answered many questions about the beginning, the history of the disease, the search to learn what caused it.


The Alzheimer’s Action Plan

P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D.
Lisa P. Gwyther, M.S. W.
with Tina Adler
Approx 450 Pages

The Alzheimer’s Action Plan follows the directive of the title. Divided into parts, it tackles and takes Action on each part of the battle with Alzheimer’s. Part One: Diagnosis and Why to get it. Part Two: Treatment. Part Three: Life after Diagnosis. Part Four: More than memory loss. Part Five: A Brain-Healthy lifestyle. Part Six: Frequently asked questions.

What I enjoyed most about Alzheimer’s Action Plan is that it often works by asking Questions. And it seems that’s how I think of Alzheimer’s most of the time too, with lots of questions. I’m often asking Why? How Come? and What if? The Alzheimer’s Action Plan thinks of all the questions you might ask and trys to answer them.

It is an easy to read and understand digest. It covers the information well and uses the technique of familiar story-telling. To cover a point, it may show how it happened and who it happened to. It’s very easy to draw an image in your mind when they draw a picture of a real person. Many “real People” scenarios cover the questions and answers and learning in this book. And it works.

From Diagnosing, to Intricate details about treatment and loving care of the agitated Alzheimer’s patient, The Alzheimer’s Action Plan covers it all. I can’t think of a question I had that wasn’t covered in this book. I think you’ll enjoy it.


Alzheimer’s Disease – 300 Tips For Making Life Easier

Patricia R. Calllone, MA. MRE, Connie Kudlacek, BS, Barbara C. Vasiloff, MA
Janaan Manternach, D Min, Roger a. Brumback, MD
Approx: 120 pages

This is a handy guide that concentrates on ideas and suggestions to help the caregiver care for the Patient. It draws a complete diagram of what occurs with the disease of Alzheimer’s and resulting Dementia. It shows the memory before disease has occurred and what happens with each stage as it occurs, allowing the caregiver to make the most out of abilities that remain.

With graphs and words, each loss of memory is described; along with the functions that will remain and ideas to maximize the patient’s ability to cope with these changes. It’s intriguing to concentrate on what the Alzheimer’s patient CAN do, rather than only what they can no longer do.

Many relevant questions are answered; What key financial and legal issues should be considered, how will medications or other illnesses affect the disease, how to simplify everyday tasks and learn what local resources are available.

For a small book, it is packed with information that the caregiver needs to understand the patient and do their job of caring for him adequately.


The Caregiver’s Survival Handbook – How to care for your aging parent without losing yourslf

Alexis Abramson with Mary Anne Dunkin
Approx. 250 pages

Alexis Abramson is well known as an impassioned champion for the dignity and independence of those over fifty. She’s a speaker, care giving consultant, successful author, and award-winning entrepreneur. She’s been featured in many national publications such as Time, Forbes, and People magazine. She’s also appeared as an on-air expert gerontologist for NBC’s Today show since 1997.

While this book is not specific to Alzheimer’s or Dementia disease, it pertains more to accepting responsibility for aging, adult parents and encouraging their independence. Ms. Abramson speaks to juggling our own responsibilities while caring for an elderly parent and not feeling guilty about doing “enough.” She covers the issues of getting family members to help, while continuing to live your own life.

Bringing it all together, it’s a helpful guide to staying true to yourself as you learn to parent your parents as they age.


THE KINDLE EDITION OF ELDER LAW – As you cope with your loved one’s legal issues, it can become so complicated that you no longer know which decisions to make first.  There are many medical bills that are covered under Medicare and Medicaid, but some payments are not available to the long-term care patient. It’s best to see an elder lawyer for these issues, and this book will help you know when it’s time for  an appointment with an Elder Attorney.


The Kindle – The new way to store and read books

Take all your books with you–where ever you go! Kindle is easy to hold and read. It is designed with long-form reading in mind. When reading for long periods of time, people naturally shift positions and often like to read with one hand. Kindle’s page-turning buttons are located on both sides, allowing you to read and turn pages from any position. The new soft-touch, textured back is comfortable to hold and never gets hot in your hands.

Never Gets Hot
Unlike a laptop or tablet, Kindle never gets hot so you can read comfortably as long as you like.

Simple to Use, No Computer Required
Unlike most electronic devices, we wanted to keep Kindle simple. Kindle is wireless and ready to use right out of the box – no setup, no software to install, no computer required.



  1. My very favorite book is “Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s” by Joanne Koenig Coste.

  2. Fantastic choices. My additional favorite: “The Best Friend’s Approach to Alzheimer’s Care” by Virginia White and David Troxel. It reminds readers that even if a person ‘forgets who you are’, you *are* her spouse, sister, best friend, so keep being that person, tell them the best stories of your lives together; it still matters, it counts, no matter what s/he calls you.

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