The best books about dementia and how to find joy, meaning, and purpose while caregiving

Who am I?

During my decades of working with caregivers as a dementia care expert, I have heard many accounts of what the experience is like—from the sad and hollow to experiences rich in significance. Everyone faces obstacles when caring for a loved one; some of these obstacles come in the form of uncomfortable or painful emotional histories or past unresolved conflicts. After each opportunity to raise awareness and understanding about how dementia impacts individuals, their families, and their communities, I have been gratified to witness enhanced feelings of hope and comfort for all involved. It is my hope that through this book I will enter your home or your professional caregiving setting and work alongside you. 

I wrote...

A Loving Approach to Dementia Care: Making Meaningful Connections While Caregiving

By Laura Wayman,

Book cover of A Loving Approach to Dementia Care: Making Meaningful Connections While Caregiving

What is my book about?

Caring for someone with dementia means devotedly and patiently doing a hundred little things each day. But few care providers are trained to meet the challenges of dementia—despite the fact that millions of people will struggle with it. In A Loving Approach to Dementia Care, Laura Wayman, who is known professionally as the Dementia Whisperer, offers practical, compassionate advice on overcoming caregiving obstacles and maintaining meaningful relationships with loved ones who have dementia and memory loss.

Each chapter contains two sections—"Lessons Learned" and "Perceptions and Approaches"—which provide details about how readers can apply lessons from the stories Wayman tells to their own caregiving practice. A Loving Approach to Dementia Care is an empathetic guide filled with respect, calm, and creativity. It will leave readers feeling empowered and inspired.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss

Why did I love this book?

The 36-Hour Day is a comprehensive guide for caregivers that is often recommended by physicians to the families caring for a loved one with any cause of dementia symptoms or cognitive decline. I found the information provided very practical on the medical, legal, financial, and emotional aspects of caring for an individual presenting any level of dementia symptoms.

The clinical insights provided were very helpful, and the information for the caregiver throughout on the value of accessing outside help is such an important reminder for them to not try and navigate this dementia care journey alone!

Combining practical advice with specific examples on how to cope with the challenges associated with caring for a loved one with dementia symptoms make this an excellent guide for the family caregiver.

By Nancy L. Mace, Peter V. Rabins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The 36-Hour Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through five editions, The 36-Hour Day has been an essential resource for families who love and care for people with Alzheimer disease. Whether a person has Alzheimer disease or another form of dementia, he or she will face a host of problems. The 36-Hour Day will help family members and caregivers address these challenges and simultaneously cope with their own emotions and needs. Featuring useful takeaway messages and informed by recent research into the causes of and the search for therapies to prevent or cure dementia, this edition includes new information on * devices to make life simpler and safer…

Book cover of The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer's-Type Dementia

Why did I love this book?

Sensitive and insightful, The Validation Breakthrough is an essential resource for families, friends, neighbors, home health aides, doctors, nurses, social workers, and long-term care staff.

I learned as I read this book the necessity of walking beside the elderly in the final life stage. I learned empathy and to listen and talk with them, rather than patronizing them or telling them what to do. And I learned a very different understanding of why those with dementia symptoms do the things that they do-how the decline in cognitive abilities affects them in a very individual way, and to better understand the reasons behind their disorientation and sometimes challenging behavior.

The Validation Breakthrough was the foundation for my dementia care programs and method, and I often recommend this to all my family and professional clients to help raise their dementia awareness.

By Naomi Feil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Validation Breakthrough as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Validation is a practical way of communicating with and managing problem behaviour in older adults with Alzheimer's-type dementia. It helps reduce stress, enhance dignity, and increase happiness. Since its inception in 1989, Validation has helped thousands of professional and family caregivers improve their relationships with residents and loved ones with dementia. Caregivers who use these techniques validate older adults' expressed feelings, rather than focusing on disorientation and confusion.

In this Anniversary Edition of The Validation Breakthrough, you'll learn how to re-create relationships between confused older adults and their caregivers. be caring and non-judgmental understand and handle challenging behaviours interpret non-verbal…

Book cover of Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer's Journey: A Guide for Families and Caregivers

Why did I love this book?

Full of practical solutions and insights to help navigate the often difficult dementia care journey.  Ms. Brackey’s positive and “can do” approach is valuable to both the family care provider as well as professionals, helping to maintain individual dignity and enhance the quality of life for those being cared for.

I found the way that the author broke down the information into five sections easy to understand, even with all of the complex information she shares. Her advice to let go of expectations and savor the simple surprises instilled hope from the beginning to the end of her book, truly helping to create more moments of joy, for not just the individual with dementia symptoms being cared for, but for the caregivers as well! 

By Jolene Brackey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The beloved best seller has been revised and expanded for the fifth edition.

Jolene Brackey has a vision: that we will soon look beyond the challenges of Alzheimer's disease to focus more of our energies on creating moments of joy. When people have short-term memory loss, their lives are made up of moments. We are not able to create perfectly wonderful days for people with dementia or Alzheimer's, but we can create perfectly wonderful moments, moments that put a smile on their faces and a twinkle in their eyes. Five minutes later, they will not remember what we did or…

Book cover of A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer's Care: A Guide for Care Partners

Why did I love this book?

This book shows you how to meet many of the daily challenges of caring for someone with dementia. Illustrated through the heartfelt stories of others this book shows your how The Best Friends method brings dignity to the lives of those presenting dementia symptoms and those who are caring for them.

I found the explanation of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia symptoms very interesting and helpful, specifically how this type of loss and experience can make the individual feel. I appreciated learning additional and successful ways to respond and communicate to many situations that caregivers face when caring for any individual with any cause of dementia symptoms.

Dementia care is complex and different for every person, and I am always looking for new perspectives and care approaches to share with family and professional care providers that can give confidence and feelings of empowerment to anyone on their individual dementia care journey-and I found this book to full of these valuable insights and useful strategies.

By Virginia Bell, David Troxel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Dignified Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease or a related form of dementia. By the year 2030, experts estimate that as many as 66 million people around the world will be faced with this life-altering disease. Unfortunately, these staggering statistics impact millions of caregivers, too. Compared with all types of caregivers, those who assist someone with dementia experience the highest levels of burnout, depression, poor health, and premature death. A Dignified Life, Revised and Expanded offers hope and help with a proven approach.

Ten years ago, the first edition of A Dignified Life changed the way…

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