The best books on Alzheimer's

20 authors have picked their favorite books about Alzheimer's disease and why they recommend each book.

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Leaving Tinkertown

By Tanya Ward Goodman,

Book cover of Leaving Tinkertown

Leaving Tinkertown is a romp of a memoir that takes the reader behind the scenes of Tinkertown, her father’s colorful roadside attraction in New Mexico. As Ross Ward descends into Alzheimer's, we learn what it was like growing up with this man and how Tanya’s complicated but tender history with him both repels and pulls her back home. Tanya’s writing is gorgeous, and this memoir is both vivid and heartbreaking! It’s a story you won’t soon forget.


Who am I?

An author of a caregiving memoir myself, I’m also a former magazine and newspaper editor who has had the opportunity to read and write about many topics. For the past five years, I have been a manager and director of AlzAuthors, an online global organization that offers the world’s most comprehensive collection of books and blogs on Alzheimer’s and dementia. To say I have done a lot of reading on this subject is an understatement. I’ve been honored to work with so many talented and big-hearted authors who share their Alzheimer’s and dementia experiences. Being immersed in the Alzheimer’s world through AlzAuthors has given me insight into many of the best memoirs on this subject.   


I wrote...

Motherhood: Lost and Found: A memoir

By Ann Campanella,

Book cover of Motherhood: Lost and Found: A memoir

What is my book about?

At age 33, writer Ann Campanella returns to North Carolina ready to build a horse farm and start a family. Ann’s foundation is shaken when she experiences multiple miscarriages at the same time her mother spirals into Alzheimer’s. As a young caregiver in the prime of her life, she plunges into an emotional journey that leads her to a deeper understanding of herself and what it means to love. 

Ann’s graceful, exacting language rises above the grief of infertility and the struggle to care for aging parents, connecting the reader ultimately to the heartbeat and resilience of the human experience. Motherhood: Lost and Found has earned numerous awards including being named "one of the best Alzheimer's books of all time" by Book Authority two years in a row. 

The House on Beartown Road

By Elizabeth Cohen,

Book cover of The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting

I was a new mother when I read this Alzheimer’s memoir and immediately felt that I’d found a friend. Elizabeth Cohen is funny, lyrical, and sometimes (understandably) frustrated as she takes on the bruising balance of managing a career while simultaneously caring for her aging father and her young daughter. The book is a testimony to the healing power of story and provided a valuable model to me as I sought to make sense of my own family experience by committing my memories to the page.


Who am I?

With more than 6-million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, my story is a shared narrative. Because reading creates empathy, I work to widen the perspective of my writing and include voices different from my own. Thanks to neuroplasticity, healthy brains have the ability to keep changing and learning. Each one of these books offers a helpful nudge in a new direction. My essays and articles have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington Post, Luxe, and Variable West, and are listed as notable in the 2019 Best American Science and Nature Writing. I’m currently at work on a second memoir about motherhood and the way travel cultivates a willing acceptance of uncertainty. 


I wrote...

Leaving Tinkertown

By Tanya Ward Goodman,

Book cover of Leaving Tinkertown

What is my book about?

Tanya Ward Goodman was raised in Tinkertown Museum, a New Mexico roadside attraction built by her father, Ross Ward. When he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at the age of fifty-eight, Goodman left a writing career and new love in Los Angeles to move back home. In this book Tanya tells Ross’s story and her own, sharing the tragedy and the unexpected comedy of caring for this funny, stubborn man who remained a unique creative force even as Alzheimer's tore through his mind. Leaving Tinkertown is an account of the ways that loss reshaped an eccentric family and propelled the author to realize that her place in the world lay outside the museum.

Pop

By Gordon Korman,

Book cover of Pop

This book is also from a boy’s vantage point, and with a twist, dementia that is a result of too many concussions in the game of football. When Marcus moves to a new town, he befriends Charlie, an ex-NFL’er who mistakenly believes Marcus is a college buddy. Lots of themes come together in this story; family secrecy, a desire to fit in, and even the line between right and wrong depending on the motivation. This book doesn’t shy away from tough topics, including the idea that some people, if given the choice, would choose to die rather than live with the disease. 


Who am I?

The inspiration to write about Alzheimer’s came from my own life. My grandfather had the disease. He and I were very close and it broke my heart when I realized I’d been forgotten. He only remembered my voice, that it sounded like a little girl he used to know. I wanted to capture the truth of that in a story. Sadly, dementia is so common, but for some reason, we don’t talk about Alzheimer’s as openly as we do other diseases. Kids need to be able to have everyday conversations about what they might be experiencing in regards to whomever they know with the disease. My hope is that books like Flowers can help.


I wrote...

What Flowers Remember

By Shannon Wiersbitzky,

Book cover of What Flowers Remember

What is my book about?

Delia and Old Red make quite a pair. He has the know-how and she has the get-up-and-go. But something is happening to Old Red. And the doctors say he can’t be cured. He’s forgetting places and names and getting cranky for no reason. As his condition worsens, Delia takes it upon herself to save as many memories as she can. Her mission is to gather Old Red’s stories so that no one will forget, and she corrals everybody in town to help her.

What Flowers Remember is a story of love and loss, of a young girl coming to understand that even when people die, they live on in our minds, our hearts, and our stories.

The Space Between Lost and Found

By Sandy Stark-McGinnis,

Book cover of The Space Between Lost and Found

Stark-McGinnis tackles Alzheimer’s of a parent, in this case, a mother. The disease is already well-progressed as we meet Cassie; her mother has already forgotten her name. Told in the present tense interspersed with a series of flashbacks to before Cassie’s Mom had the disease, we see all that has been lost. Linking memories to math, in that each can be broken down into more finite parts, Cassie draws “memory sketches” in the hopes that connecting all the dots in Mom’s life will make her remember. It doesn’t of course, but with her father, Cassie finds a path toward acceptance. 


Who am I?

The inspiration to write about Alzheimer’s came from my own life. My grandfather had the disease. He and I were very close and it broke my heart when I realized I’d been forgotten. He only remembered my voice, that it sounded like a little girl he used to know. I wanted to capture the truth of that in a story. Sadly, dementia is so common, but for some reason, we don’t talk about Alzheimer’s as openly as we do other diseases. Kids need to be able to have everyday conversations about what they might be experiencing in regards to whomever they know with the disease. My hope is that books like Flowers can help.


I wrote...

What Flowers Remember

By Shannon Wiersbitzky,

Book cover of What Flowers Remember

What is my book about?

Delia and Old Red make quite a pair. He has the know-how and she has the get-up-and-go. But something is happening to Old Red. And the doctors say he can’t be cured. He’s forgetting places and names and getting cranky for no reason. As his condition worsens, Delia takes it upon herself to save as many memories as she can. Her mission is to gather Old Red’s stories so that no one will forget, and she corrals everybody in town to help her.

What Flowers Remember is a story of love and loss, of a young girl coming to understand that even when people die, they live on in our minds, our hearts, and our stories.

The 36-Hour Day

By Nancy L. Mace, Peter V. Rabins,

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

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.


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.

Stammered Songbook

By Erwin Mortier, Paul Vincent (translator),

Book cover of Stammered Songbook: A Mother's Book of Hours

Erwin Mortier is a poet, and this slim, intense volume is a haunting memorial to his mother in her final months. She died of early-onset dementia, and Mortier struggles to find adequate words for a condition that is profoundly connected to the failure of language and the connection of the self to the world.


Who am I?

I am a novelist, a journalist, a humanist celebrant, and coauthor with my husband of the best-selling Nicci French thrillers. Witnessing my father’s dementia and his slow-motion dying radically transformed the way I think about what it is to be human. In 2014, I founded John’s Campaign which seeks to make the care of those who are vulnerable and powerless more compassionate, and which is now a national movement in the UK. In 2016, I won the Orwell Prize for Journalism for ‘exposing Britain’s social evils' in the pieces I wrote exploring the nature of dementia.


I wrote...

The Last Ocean: What Dementia Teaches Us about Love

By Nicci Gerrard,

Book cover of The Last Ocean: What Dementia Teaches Us about Love

What is my book about?

I wrote this book because of my own need to understand a disease that so profoundly affected my father and all who loved him, and because I believe there are better, kinder, and more hopeful ways of dealing with an illness that can dismantle a self. It’s a psychological, philosophical, intellectual, and emotional investigation into this loss, a collection of stories -  some of which are desolating while others are redemptive and show how brave and resilient people can be. It is also a farewell to a man who I loved and who is the book’s guide and its sweet-natured ghost.

Somebody I Used to Know

By Wendy Mitchell,

Book cover of Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir

Wendy Mitchell was devastated to receive a diagnosis of early-onset dementia at age 58. What she learned is that having dementia did not mean her life was over. Instead of getting ready to die, as her physician recommended, she got busy living, became a dementia advocate and speaker across the United Kingdom, earned two honorary doctorates, and realized many of her life’s dreams, including that of becoming a published author, telling her deeply personal story. This is one of the first, if not the first, personal accounts of living with dementia to become a national bestseller. Wendy spares no details and brings the reader deep into her life as a woman living alone with memory loss.


Who am I?

I am a registered nurse, author, and dementia daughter. As a nurse and hospital case manager, I spent many years caring for people living with dementia and their families. This inspired me to write a novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story. I soon encountered difficulties marketing my book. I reached out to two other dementia daughters I’d met online who had also written books on the subject from personal experience and together we founded the non-profit organization AlzAuthors.com. Our mission is to carefully vet resources – stories of personal caregiving – to help busy caregivers find the information and inspiration they need for their own journeys. To date, we are 300+ authors strong.


I wrote...

Blue Hydrangeas

By Marianne Sciucco,

Book cover of Blue Hydrangeas

What is my book about?

What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn't remember your name? Memory care is everyone's solution for what to do about Sara but Jack can't bear to live without her. He’s committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. They retired years ago to the house of their dreams and operated it as a bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: They’ll stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings.

He takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.

The 36-Hour Day

By Nancy L. Mace, Peter V. Rabins,

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

Now in its 7th edition, this book is the classic guide to caregiving for individuals with dementia. Comprehensive, and filled with stories and anecdotes, it is packed with valuable information on dementia and the behaviors that dementia engenders. We have read it several times and have recommended it to hundreds if not thousands of families. 


Who are we?

As a neurologist and neuropsychologist team who have spent their entire clinical, teaching, and research careers focused on individuals and their families experiencing memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia, our goal is simple. We want to empower individuals and their families with the tools they need to manage memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. We work to balance pharmacological and nonpharmacological management, as well as the needs of the individual with those of their family. Reading books like the ones in our list plus articles in medical journals keeps us current with the progress in the science of dementia and the humanity of individuals and families living with the disease. 


We wrote...

Six Steps to Managing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: A Guide for Families

By Andrew E. Budson, Maureen K. O'Connor,

Book cover of Six Steps to Managing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: A Guide for Families

What is our book about?

In our book, Six Steps to Managing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: A Guide for Families, we begin by explaining dementia and its various causes, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body disease, and others. We then describe how families can manage issues with memory, language, vision, behavior, agitation, aggression, driving, incontinence, sleep, and more, all without medications. Which medications can be helpful—and which can make things worse (more than 100 listed by name)—are then discussed. We close by reviewing how to care for yourself as a caregiver, build your care team, sustain your relationship with your loved one, and plan for the future.

Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer's Journey

By Jolene Brackey,

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

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! 


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.

A Dignified Life

By Virginia Bell, David Troxel,

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

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…


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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