Stepping into the role of caregiver unexpectedly is not unlike being told you have to take an exam in the morning—and you never went to class. If you’re smart, you’ll start talking to friends who’ve taken the class, checking online and looking around for books that can help you. Here are a dozen wonderful resources for caregivers that make some great food for thought. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when someone else is already rolling with the right answer.
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias and Memory Loss
by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins
Originally published in 1981, “The 36-Hour Day” is the best-known book about caregiving. Now in its sixth edition, it provides a wonderfully candid view of caring for people who have Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia or memory loss. The chapters on daily care are worth the price of the book.
Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing the Stress of Caring for Your Loved One
by Jennifer L. FitzPatrick
An easy read, this is a down-to-earth guide if you are caring for an aging parent or other loved one. FitzPatrick draws on her personal and professional experience and does a good job of covering self-care. Her take on everything from how to get other relatives to help with caregiving duties to handling your loved one’s declining health, finances and legal documents is refreshing.
Where the Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again
by Kimberly Williams-Paisley
You may recognize the author’s name; she’s country music star Brad Paisley’s wife. Or, you know her as starring in the “Father of the Bride” movies and the TV show “Nashville.” Williams-Paisley’s mother was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia, and the book does a good job of reflecting the emotional roller coaster that this sort of news can create. An important point is that a close-knit, loving family or a group of close friends can be crucial when moving through this type of challenge.
Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence
by Gail Sheehy
During the past few decades, Sheehy has been an outstanding chronicler of the natural progressions of life as Baby Boomers have aged. In “Passages” she, once again, directs a keen eye at the details, joys, pains, losses and victories of a life experience most of us go through.
AARP Meditations for Caregivers: Practical, Emotional and Spiritual Support for You and Your Family
by Barry J. Jacobs and Julia L. Mayer
Like many of the AARP resources, this one is high on practical advice and low on theory. Some of the best topics are how to deal with caregiving-related sibling conflicts or marital problems, and balancing caregiving and career.
Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents
by Iris Waichler
The author uses her personal experience and 40-year career as a clinical social worker and patient advocate to offer a variety of senior care options, estate planning tips and ways of coping with emotions like grief and anger.
Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul
Edited by Joan Lunden and Amy Newmark
I have to confess a weakness for the Chicken Soup series of books. I’ve always liked how they show us that, depending on the topic, we all go through many of the same challenges in life. The best thing this book can do is show you that you are not alone in your challenges.
They’re Your Parents, Too!: How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents’ Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy
by Francine Russo
Russo, a former Time Magazine journalist, highlights the ups and downs of siblings thrown into the caregiver pool.
You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You: A Caregiver’s Survival Guide to Keeping You in Good Health and Good Spirits
by Jane Heller
Heller chronicles the 20+ years she cared for her husband who has Crohn’s disease. Her advice and writing style has been compared to Nora Ephron.
Mama Peaches and Me: Wit and Wisdom for Worn-Out Caregivers
by Christopher-Charles Chaney
Anything that can make you laugh as a caregiver is a good thing. Chaney mixes humor and practical advice when talking about caring for his aging mother. Like most caregiver books he addresses stress, burnout and depression, but he does it with a lighter heart.
The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Honor Your Aging Parents
by Jane Daly
Written from the perspective of Daly’s Christian faith, she shares her experiences taking care of aging parents and addresses the challenges of caregiving while raising children and dealing with common caregiving emotions, like guilt.
Eldercare for Dummies
by Rachelle Zukerman
If you are pressed for time, this book is the one. Zukerman covers all the bases quickly and with detail.
Mike Collins is the producer of the video, “Care for the Caregiver,” winner of a National Caregiver Friendly Award. For more caregiving tips, visit www.crazycaregiver.com.