The best books with innovative approaches to living with dementia

Susan H. McFadden Author Of Dementia-Friendly Communities: Why We Need Them and How We Can Create Them
By Susan H. McFadden

Who am I?

I have been teaching college students about aging since I was in my late 20s. The audacity! Now that I am officially in the “young-old” category I used to describe to my students, I more fully appreciate the social constructions of aging that affect elders, the medical conditions that can derail plans for “a good old age,” and the challenges we all face in attempting to live with meaning and purpose as we grow older. In addition to teaching, writing about, and researching various aspects of aging, especially aging with various type of dementia, my work has addressed the positive and negative ways religious faith can shape how people cope with aging.


I wrote...

Dementia-Friendly Communities: Why We Need Them and How We Can Create Them

By Susan H. McFadden,

Book cover of Dementia-Friendly Communities: Why We Need Them and How We Can Create Them

What is my book about?

Creating dementia-friendly communities can give people with dementia the chance to continue meaningful lives with reciprocal personal relationships. Underpinning successful dementia-friendly communities is an awareness of people with dementia as active citizens and the importance of supporting engagement in community life.

This book offers an overview of the dementia-friendly communities movement, showing the many benefits of this approach. It describes community initiatives from across the globe, such as Dementia Friends, memory cafés, and creative engagement with the arts through organizations like TimeSlips. It tells a story about dementia that refutes the negative stereotypes. 

The books I picked & why

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Creative Care: A Revolutionary Approach to Dementia and Elder Care

By Anne Basting,

Book cover of Creative Care: A Revolutionary Approach to Dementia and Elder Care

Why this book?

Anne Basting offers lively examples of how creative care enables people living with dementia to experience joy and connect meaningfully with others. Her ideas about creative care are grounded in solid research and her experiences developing innovative arts experiences in communities and long-term care settings. Throughout the book, she offers concrete suggestions for integrating creativity into all aspects of care. She knows this field well and movingly describes her own mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s dementia.


The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease Into a Crisis and What We Can Do about It

By Jason Karlawish,

Book cover of The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease Into a Crisis and What We Can Do about It

Why this book?

This fascinating and highly engaging history of Alzheimer’s dementia offers insights into the origins of the so-called “Alzheimer’s disease movement,” and the political and social influences on how post-modern societies deal with the cognitive, emotional, and motivational challenges experienced by people given that diagnosis. It concludes with insights about why the millions of dollars spent on searching for a “cure” have produced so little and it suggests other approaches that can contribute to the well-being of people living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. 


On Vanishing: Mortality, Dementia, and What It Means to Disappear

By Lynn Casteel Harper,

Book cover of On Vanishing: Mortality, Dementia, and What It Means to Disappear

Why this book?

Lynn Casteel Harper, currently minister for older adults at The Riverside Church in New York City, has written a compassionate book about contemporary fears of aging, dementia, and death. She shows how these fears produce greater social isolation and suffering for people living with dementia and caring for loved ones, whether in private homes or in care communities. She uses personal experiences to illustrate the way our fears of “vanishing” can be overcome when we learn to connect meaningfully with people with dementia.


Dignity and Grace: Wisdom for Caregivers and Those Living with Dementia

By Janet L Ramsey,

Book cover of Dignity and Grace: Wisdom for Caregivers and Those Living with Dementia

Why this book?

Janet Ramsey’s experiences as a chaplain, therapist, and family caregiver have taught her that people living with dementia deeply desire interactions with others that uphold their dignity and offer them love and forgiveness. She interviewed many dementia caregivers and throughout the book, she lets them express what dignity and grace mean in their everyday interactions with loved ones. Each chapter concludes with a reflection on a different Psalm, reflections that speak directly to the challenges and opportunities for growth that come with caregiving. Readers need not be Christian or in any way religious to appreciate the warmth and humanity conveyed throughout this book.


Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife

By Dayle A. Friedman,

Book cover of Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife

Why this book?

Rabbi Dayle Friedman’s wisdom about aging can be appreciated by people of all religions and no religion. Her honest engagement with some of the most difficult issues aging persons face leaves readers with hope rather than despair. Her many years as a chaplain for people living in long-term care with dementia undergird her suggestions on how to make sense of what she calls “dementia’s brokenness”. She concludes each chapter with a spiritual practice readers can employ to engage more deeply with the chapter’s topics, and also at the end of each chapter, she offers readers a blessing for their own efforts to flourish as they age.  


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and caregiver?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and caregiver.

Dementia Explore 57 books about dementia
Alzheimer's Disease Explore 43 books about Alzheimer's disease
Caregiver Explore 32 books about caregiver

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss, The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease and Other Dementias, and A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer's Care: A Guide for Care Partners if you like this list.