The best caregiver books

8 authors have picked their favorite books about caregiver and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

Trevor Conklin is a teenager in the advanced stages of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound.  His new caretaker, Ben Benjamin, has lost his family to an accident (the details of which we don’t learn until the end of the book) and is financially broke. He has taken a 28-hour course on caregiving at a local church and afterward is hired by Trevor’s single mother to dress, bathe, and do everything that Trevor can’t do for himself. At first, there’s a lot of friction between Ben and Trevor, but after a while they become close and begin to trust one another. Together, they go on a road trip from Washington state to Utah to visit Trevor’s dad, the two haven’t seen one another for years. Along the way, they pick up some hitchhikers and Trevor has an encounter with a young woman. Alongside the road trip, are several flashbacks to…

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

By Jonathan Evison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (releasing June 24, 2016 as a Netflix Original Film titled The Fundamentals of Caring, starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez), Jonathan Evison, author of the new novel This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! and the New York Times bestseller West of Here, has crafted a novel of the heart, a story of unlikely heroes in a grand American landscape.

For Ben Benjamin, all has been lost--his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. Hoping to find a new direction, he enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he will learn…


Who am I?

I’m a fiction writer and visual artist. My volunteer work with Amnesty International on a documentary photography project introduced me to 15 people from all over the world. During that time, I volunteered at a camp in Maine for kids who had life-threatening illnesses. I met a boy who had Progeria. Those two experiences fueled the writing of What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me. I’m interested in characters who don’t fit the traditional mold and have to carve their own paths. People who are born with life-threatening diseases, imperfections, handicaps, brilliance. I see a kind of bravery in these characters, and in all they have to do to overcome the odds.  


I wrote...

What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me

By Donna Gordon,

Book cover of What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me

What is my book about?

What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me explores the story of Lee, a vibrant thirteen-year-old boy who is facing premature death from Progeria (a premature aging disease); his caretaker Tomás, a survivor of Argentina’s Dirty War, who's searching for his missing wife, who was pregnant when they were both "disappeared;" and Lee's single mother, Cass, overwhelmed by love for her son and the demands of her work as a Broadway makeup artist. When a mix-up prevents Cass from taking Lee on his "final wish" trip to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia to pursue his interest in the life of Ben Franklin, Tomás – who has discovered potential leads to his family in both cities – offers to accompany Lee on the trip. One flees memories of death and the other hurtles inevitably toward it. 

My Sibling

By Isabelle Filliozat, Éric Veillé (illustrator),

Book cover of My Sibling

My Sibling is an activity book with drawing prompts, stickers, crafts, and activities just right for 6-10-year-olds. Touching on jealousy, fairness, sharing, and more, the book gently guides children to try new ways of thinking and behaving towards their siblings. An extensive section for parents and caregivers more fully explains what parents can do to help their children get along.

My Sibling

By Isabelle Filliozat, Éric Veillé (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Sibling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This helpful activity book offers activities to help kids get along with their brothers and sisters. Kids think that they are expected to love their brothers and sisters unconditionally, but sibling relationships can be really complicated. This book covers jealousy, fairness, sharing, parent-relationship, and tons more and helps kids find a common ground with their siblings if things get too fraught or upsetting. Includes an extensive section for parents and caregivers with tools and tips for exploring the topic.

Who am I?

I am a Child Psychologist and Author turned Parent Coach who often hears about the bickering, put-downs, jealousy, and conflict sapping families with multiple children. Telling them to “cut it out” clearly does nothing. Kids need not only the skills (how to talk, how to listen, how to manage feelings and resolve conflict) but also the motivation to use them, a combination I have spent my career thinking about, writing about, and teaching. All of the books I have written, and all that I recommend, include this winning combination of skills and motivation with the aim of helping children live happier lives.


I wrote...

The Sibling Survival Guide: Surefire Ways to Solve Conflicts, Reduce Rivalry, and Have More Fun with Your Brothers and Sisters

By Dawn Huebner, Kara McHale (illustrator),

Book cover of The Sibling Survival Guide: Surefire Ways to Solve Conflicts, Reduce Rivalry, and Have More Fun with Your Brothers and Sisters

What is my book about?

Having a brother or sister can be tough. It can also be great, but it’s hard to see the great parts with so many bad parts getting in the way. Things like fighting and bossing. Teasing and jealousy. Tattling. Pestering. You get the idea. The Sibling Survival Guide speaks directly to children ages 9-12, teaching the skills needed to manage feelings, resolve conflicts, and strengthen bonds. Warm, witty, and packed with practical strategies, this interactive book educates, motivates, and empowers siblings to live in peace.

Brain-Based Parenting

By Daniel A. Hughes, Jonathan Baylin,

Book cover of Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of Caregiving for Healthy Attachment

My students love this book. It takes the inside perspective of both the parent and the child in stressful situations and guides the reader on how to act in a way that builds connection and relationship. It is easy to read with lots of real-life examples.

Brain-Based Parenting

By Daniel A. Hughes, Jonathan Baylin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brain-Based Parenting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking exploration of the brain mechanisms behind healthy caregiving, attachment specialist Daniel A. Hughes and veteran clinical psychologist Jonathan Baylin guide readers through the intricate web of neuronal processes, hormones and chemicals that drive-and sometimes thwart-our caregiving impulses, uncovering the mysteries of the parental brain.

The biggest challenge to parents, Hughes and Baylin explain, is learning how to regulate emotions that arise-feeling them deeply and honestly while staying grounded and aware enough to preserve the parent-child relationship. Stress, which can lead to "blocked" or dysfunctional care, can impede our brain's inherent caregiving processes and negatively impact our ability…


Who am I?

I am passionate about raising each human being for lifelong wellbeing and a full set of intelligences. High-income nations don’t do this so much anymore. I conduct empirical studies with children, parents, and other adults to examine how early experience affects capacities for getting along in life and with others. My book has won awards for its holistic view, integrating neuroscience, anthropology, and developmental science. This work led me to start the Evolved Nest website with lots of resources for parents and for all who care about human wellbeing. Humanity is facing many challenges and we need everyone’s gifts to be well grown to help us solve the problems we face.


I wrote...

Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom

By Darcia Narváez,

Book cover of Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom

What is my book about?

Moral development has traditionally been considered a matter of reasoning―of learning and acting in accordance with abstract rules. On this model, largely taken for granted in modern societies, acts of selfishness, aggression, and ecological mindlessness are failures of will, moral problems that can be solved by acting in accordance with a higher rationality. 

In this integrative book, Darcia Narvaez argues that morality goes “all the way down” into our neurobiological and emotional development and that a person’s moral architecture is largely established early on in life. Moral rationality and virtue emerge “bottom-up” from lived experience, so it matters what that experience is. Bringing together deep anthropological history, ethical philosophy, and contemporary neurobiological science, she demonstrates where modern industrialized societies have fallen away from the cultural practices that made us human in the first place.

Dementia, My Darling

By Brendan Constantine,

Book cover of Dementia, My Darling

The title poem in this collection, (made from lines spoken by the poet’s mother,) manages to embody both caregiver and loved one as Constantine gives gentle structure to a string of seemingly disconnected utterances. Each poem in the book explores themes of loss, memory, and family through a different lens, creating an almost kaleidoscopic vision of the world. The collection is a rumination, a celebration, and a beautiful example of how poetry can expand our perspectives and teach us to speak and hear new rhythms.  

Dementia, My Darling

By Brendan Constantine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dementia, My Darling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As with Constantine's previous titles, Dementia, My Darling can be enjoyed at random or in order. However, when taken in sequence, the poems construct a thesis on life as we remember it from moment to moment. What is your first memory of love? How soon will you forget answering that question?

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.

Book cover of The Successful Caregiver’s Guide

Rick Lauber is another caregiving expert that I turn to for information and advice when I was a caregiver. This book is jam-packed with practical guidelines, tips, and resources for caregivers. It helps caregivers assess their needs and what care options are available to them as they care for the needs of their loved one changes and their ability to be a caregiver also changes. 

The Successful Caregiver’s Guide

By Rick Lauber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Successful Caregiver’s Guide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You may be among the tens of millions of Americans who provide care for your parent — or you may be among the ten of millions who will. So many children are caught unprepared when physical and mental health declines in aging parents. Life cannot readily prepare you to furnish excellent eldercare while balancing the demands on your time. This book provides practical tips, realistic guidance, encouragement and insight into the time ahead. Among other things, it answers: • How do you decide when your parent stays at home or moves to assisted living? • What should you expect when…

Who am I?

I have been a medical social worker for over 40 years working with people who have had a catastrophic illness. I counseled them and their family members. Because of this experience, I have a lot of knowledge, experience, and training regarding the challenges caregivers face. In addition, I was the primary caregiver for my parents and helped take care of 2 friends helping them to die with dignity. Finally, I am the author of an 8-time award-winning book called Role Reversal How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents. I have written hundreds of articles on health-related topics including aging and caregiving.


I wrote...

Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents

By Iris Waichler,

Book cover of Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents

What is my book about?

Designed to help caregivers understand how to cope with and overcome the overwhelming challenges that arise while caregiving for a loved one―especially an aging parent―Role Reversal is a comprehensive guide to navigating the enormous daily challenges faced by caregivers.

In these pages, Waichler blends her personal experience caring for her beloved father with her forty years of expertise as a patient advocate and licensed clinical social worker. It is told in her voice and his. His life story becomes a springboard discussing universal caregiving themes. The result is a book offering invaluable information on topics ranging from estate planning to grief and anger to building a support network and finding the right level of care for your elderly parent. This book won 8 major book awards. 

The Problem of Alzheimer's

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

First, this book provides a wonderful history of the important discoveries of the different aspects of the disease. You also learn the stories behind many aspects of the disease that are now taken for granted—even with our 25+ years of treating people with this disease and conducting research to understand it better, we learned a lot. Dr. Karlawish also explains why research into dementia languished for more than 50 years. Finally, he raises many thought-provoking ethical issues that people with dementia, doctors, and society will need to wrestle with if we are going to solve “The Problem of Alzheimer’s.” 

The Problem of Alzheimer's

By Jason Karlawish,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Problem of Alzheimer's as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A definitive and compelling book on one of today's most prevalent illnesses.

In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans had Alzheimer’s, and more than half a million died because of the disease and its devastating complications. 16 million caregivers are responsible for paying as much as half of the $226 billion annual costs of their care. As more people live beyond their seventies and eighties, the number of patients will rise to an estimated 13.8 million by 2050.

Part case studies, part meditation on the past, present and future of the disease, The Problem of Alzheimer's traces Alzheimer’s from its…


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.

Dignity and Grace

By Janet L Ramsey,

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

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.

Dignity and Grace

By Janet L Ramsey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dignity and Grace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discovering how to live with dementia

"I'm a stranger in a strange land," sighed the dignified gentleman Janet L. Ramsey met walking down the care-center hallway. Those words, her first glimpse of the confusion that comes with dementia, led her into a lifetime of work with older adults.

If you have been diagnosed with dementia or you are accompanying someone with this illness, you may find yourself on a journey that began with a sudden diagnosis and an acute sense of panic. Or perhaps your journey started gradually, as you noticed changes in yourself or in your partner or parent.…


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. 

Book cover of The New American Servitude: Political Belonging Among African Immigrant Home Care Workers

When American families hire “market proxies” to do care work, it leads to all sorts of tangled relationships. In this book, Cati Coe explores the experiences of immigrant Ghanaian home health workers in the US. Care work, although often monotonous and difficult, is also incredibly intimate, meaningful, and personal. These migrants provide crucial services for American elders, but many of them feel so unwelcome that they return to Africa when they retire. I love the gritty details that this book provides as it explores the paradoxes of discrimination and exploitation that Black African women face in the care work industry. If you like this book as much as I do, consider reading Coe’s subsequent book, which follows retired Ghanaian care workers back to Africa.   

The New American Servitude

By Cati Coe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist, 2020 Elliott P. Skinner Award, given by the Association of Africanist Anthropology
Examines why African care workers feel politically excluded from the United States
Care for America's growing elderly population is increasingly provided by migrants, and the demand for health care labor is only expected to grow. Because of this health care crunch and the low barriers to entry, new African immigrants have adopted elder care as a niche employment sector, funneling their friends and relatives into this occupation. However, elder care puts care workers into racialized, gendered, and age hierarchies, making it difficult for them to achieve social…


Who am I?

My mom was an anthropologist, and when I was two, she took me to Sri Lanka, the island off the tip of India. After years of insisting that I wanted nothing to do with any social science, let alone anthropology, I ended up in graduate school studying… anthropology. Long story. Having taken up the family mantel, I returned to the village where I lived as a child and asked what had changed in the intervening years. Since then, my Sri Lankan interlocutors have suggested book topics that include labor migration, the use and abuse of alcohol, the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and the challenges of aging. 


I wrote...

Linked Lives: Elder Care, Migration, and Kinship in Sri Lanka

By Michele Ruth Gamburd,

Book cover of Linked Lives: Elder Care, Migration, and Kinship in Sri Lanka

What is my book about?

When loved ones spend years away from home, what happens to the family members left behind? In this book, I draw readers into intimate family life in a coastal village in Sri Lanka. I began researching this village 30 years ago, studying what happened when mothers left the country to work as housemaids in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Over the years, the village has changed, my friends have aged, and their children have migrated. I try to capture their triumphs and sorrows and the challenges that their trans-local families face in caring for children and elders.  

How to Be Sick

By Toni Bernhard,

Book cover of How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers

How to Be Sick is a soothing and strengthening book that offers tools that are useful for any creature living a life with a human body and heart. It contains many Buddhist-inspired mindfulness techniques that I use daily, such as ways to adjust one’s thoughts and approach, ways to work with acceptance and grief, and ways to find pleasure and joy when they are hard to come by.

How to Be Sick

By Toni Bernhard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Be Sick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brand-new edition of the best-selling classic with added and updated practices.

In 2001, Toni Bernhard got sick and, to her and her partner’s bewilderment, stayed that way. As they faced the confusion, frustration, and despair of a life with sudden limitations—a life that was vastly different from the one they’d thought they’d have together—Toni had to learn how to be sick. In spite of her many physical and energetic restrictions (and sometimes, because of them), Toni learned how to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy. This book reminds us that our own inner freedom is limitless, regardless…

Who am I?

Like my main character, I’m a Norwegian writer with ties to the US, who grew up with various chronic illnesses. I discovered the reason for much of my trouble when I was diagnosed with endometriosis. Isolated and in pain, I have always turned to books. I craved seeing my life reflected. Since Please Read This Leaflet Carefully came out, I’ve heard from many readers. I hope that it can help people who haven’t seen themselves in art before. This list addresses the needs of a life with chronic illness and pain: guidance, darkness, humor, comfort, and poetry. I hope these books will help you as much as they did me. 


I wrote...

Please Read This Leaflet Carefully: Keep This Leaflet. You May Need to Read It Again.

By Karen Havelin,

Book cover of Please Read This Leaflet Carefully: Keep This Leaflet. You May Need to Read It Again.

What is my book about?

Please Read This Leaflet Carefully is a life told in reverse and a subversion of what we expect from stories of illness. Having been diagnosed with endometriosis in her twenties, we follow Laura Fjellstad in her struggle to live a normal life across New York, Paris, and Oslo, fueled by her belief that to survive her chronic illness she must be completely self-reliant.

Moving backwards through time from 2016 to 1995, we meet Laura’s younger selves: her healthier selves. Laura as a daughter, a figure skater, a lover, and a mother. To be devoured intensely in one sitting, Please Read This Leaflet Carefully is a remarkable debut novel with bracing emotional insights and piercing descriptions of pain that linger in one’s mind long after the last page. 

The Soul of Care

By Arthur Kleinman,

Book cover of The Soul of Care: The Moral Education of a Husband and a Doctor

Professor and psychiatrist Arthur Kleinman’s The Soul of Care movingly explicates the practical, emotional, and moral aspects of caregiving. Based on Kleinman’s experiences as the primary caregiver for his late wife Joan after she developed early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, this book skillfully reveals caregiving – however grueling, however much about enduring the unendurable – as resonating with emotional, moral, and, for many, religious meaning, and ultimately enabling us to realize our humanity most fully. Moreover, inspired by the work of Anne-Marie Slaughter, Kleinman poignantly argues for the importance of recognizing care as a basic human right.

The Soul of Care

By Arthur Kleinman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A moving memoir and an extraordinary love story that shows how an expert physician became a family caregiver and learned why care is so central to all our lives and yet is at risk in today's world.

When Dr. Arthur Kleinman, an eminent Harvard psychiatrist and social anthropologist, began caring for his wife, Joan, after she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, he found just how far the act of caregiving extended beyond the boundaries of medicine. In The Soul of Care: The Moral Education of a Husband and a Doctor, Kleinman delivers a deeply humane and inspiring story of…

Who am I?

Karen Thornber is Harry Tuchman Levin Professor in Literature and Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard. Her work brings humanistic insights to global challenges.  Thornber is the author of the award-winning scholarly books Empire of Texts in Motion and Ecoambiguity as well as most recently Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care. Current projects include books on gender justice in Asia, mental health, inequality/injustice, sustainability/climate change, and indigeneity.

I wrote...

Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care

By Karen Laura Thornber,

Book cover of Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care

What is my book about?

Global Healing reveals just how much of the suffering experienced by individuals with adverse health conditions comes not from the health conditions themselves but instead from how people are treated by society, medical and health professionals, and even friends and family members. Far from being integrated into communities of care where they are treated respectfully and in ways that promote healing and enable wellbeing, individuals with adverse health conditions are all too frequently stigmatized, dehumanized, and silenced. This is particularly true of people who are already subjected to structural violence because of their age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexuality, or other factors. Global Healing is especially relevant as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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