There’s a common misconception that people with dementia can’t maintain meaningful relationships. But 80 percent of people with dementia can effectively communicate, and approximately one-third of them can make important decisions, one study found. The best books on dementia break down barriers and provide helpful strategies to make those types of meaningful engagements possible.
Best Books on Dementia
We’ve pulled together some of our favorites along with some details on what to expect in each book.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Cartoonist Roz Chast captures the trials, tribulations, and humor that only caregivers of elderly parents could understand in her illustrated memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? From starting difficult conversations with parents to helping them settle into senior living to making difficult decisions about end-of-life care, Chast captures the challenges and triumphs of caring for elderly parents.
Meaningful Connections: Positive Ways to Be Together When a Loved One Has Dementia by Nancy Kriseman
Over three decades, Nancy Kriseman has honed the art of building and maintaining strong relationships with family members with dementia. In Meaningful Connections, Kriseman helps readers understand how to gauge a loved one’s cognitive ability, and she provides suggestions to cater communication styles to promote engagement. Kriseman also highlights the importance of using a loved one’s hobbies and interests as a bridge to building meaningful relationships today.
Understanding Difficult Behaviors: Some Practical Suggestions for Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Illnesses by Anne Robinson
Understanding difficult, unpredictable, and changing behaviors in a loved one with dementia is a challenge. In Understanding Difficult Behaviors, Anne Robinson helps readers understand the root causes of behavioral disturbances like anger and agitation, wandering, incontinence, sleep issues, and wanting to go home. Robinson’s book is highly recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association because she provides critical resources and suggestions to address difficult topics that aren’t often talked about.
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer's Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss by Peter V. Rabins
One of the most highly reviewed and most popular books for adult children of loved ones with dementia, The 36-Hour Day is now in its fifth edition. The book serves as a caregiver’s handguide, including an explanation of different types of dementia, first steps in getting medical help, changes occurring at each phase of dementia, the challenges of living independently, getting outside help, and striking a balance between roles as child and caregiver.
Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease by Joanne Koenig Coste
Joanne Koenig Coste provides strategies to cope with an initial dementia diagnosis, to make lifestyle adjustments as the disease progresses and to limit behavioral disturbances in Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s. Coste also discusses her method, “habilitation,” to help families connect with loved ones with dementia by understanding and relating to the loved one’s reality.
A wealth of knowledge is available to help families better understand and engage with a loved one with dementia. The Arbor Company’s Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and How to Talk to Your Parent About Senior Living are free resources that will serve as great starting points.