Family caregivers often find themselves plunged into a demanding and stressful role for which they are utterly unprepared. Shared wisdom from experts – especially those who who’ve been there themselves – can be a much-needed source of practical knowledge and inspiration to those who are making their way through the caregiving journey.
The following list of books, all published in 2016, include different takes on the caregiver experience – from straightforward guides on how to deal with the daily realities of caregiving to memoirs that mix humor, poignant moments and tips for how to handle a range of caregiving dilemmas.
The list is based on both Caring.com staff members’ picks and online reviews, and is ranked in no particular order.
1. Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing the Stress of Caring for Your Loved One
by Jennifer L. FitzPatrick
"Cruising Through Caregiving" is a comprehensive, down-to-earth guide to the ins and outs of caring for an aging loved one. While the responsibilities of caregiving are far from easy, author Jennifer FitzPatrick aims to help readers be the best caregivers possible without sacrificing their own health, relationships or career. Drawing on her own personal and professional experience, the author tackles everything from how to get other relatives to help with caregiving duties to handling your loved one’s declining health, finances and legal documents.
2. Where the Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again
by Kimberly Williams-Paisley
Many people know Kimberly Williams-Paisley from her starring role in the popular "Father of the Bride" movies, the TV show "Nashville" or as the wife of country star Brad Paisley. In "Where the Light Gets In," Williams-Paisley pours her heart out about how her and her family’s lives changed after her beloved mother was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia.
Readers get an inside glimpse into how the author coped with her mother’s devastating diagnosis and progressive condition while raising her own young children. The book chronicles the many challenges of dealing with a loved one’s declining health and is a testament to the importance of a close-knit, loving family in getting through it.
3. AARP Meditations for Caregivers: Practical, Emotional and Spiritual Support for You and Your Family
by Barry J. Jacobs and Julia L. Mayer
Clinical psychologists and married couple Barry J. Jacobs and Julia L. Mayer teamed up to write this book packed with affirmations and meditations specifically for caregivers, as well as hands-on advice about how to cope with the various challenges of caring for a loved one.
The pair offers caregiving anecdotes and practical advice drawn from their own personal and professional experiences. Some of the topics addressed in the book include handling caregiving-related sibling conflicts or marital problems and balancing caregiving and career.
4. Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents
by Iris Waichler
Author Iris Waichler combines expertise culled from her 40-year career as a clinical social worker and patient advocate along with her personal experience caring for her aging father to present advice on a range of caregiving issues in this book. The author gives resources and practical advice on elder care topics including different senior care options, estate planning and coping with common caregiving emotions like grief and anger.
5. Don’t Stop the Music: Finding the Joy in Caregiving
by Nancy Weckwerth
Like many of the books on this list, Don’t Stop the Music: Finding the Joy in Caregiving offers a mix of practical caregiving tips as well as inspirational anecdotes and lessons drawn from the author Nancy Weckwerth’s personal experience. The book delves into the unique challenges she faced and lessons learned over more than two decades as a caregiver for her partner John after he suffered a massive stroke.
“We didn’t choose our circumstances, but as a survivor, John has thrived. As a caregiver, I have thrived. I knew I needed to share what we’ve learned and how we did it,” Weckwerth said in a news release announcing the book.
6. Everything You Need to Know About Caregiving for Parkinson’s Disease
by Lianna Marie
The book’s title says it all – the 204-page tome is meant to be a comprehensive primer on caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s Disease. While author Lianna Marie addresses many of the same problems that caregivers of those with other serious health conditions face, the book also includes detailed advice about how to address the challenges of caring for someone with Parkinson’s.
Inspired by caring for her mother with Parkinson’s, the author tackles a range of related sub-topics, from the side effects caused by certain medications to how to help your loved one with specific physical symptoms and Parkinson’s-related depression to how to “Parkinson’s-proof” your loved one’s home.
7. Mama Peaches and Me: Wit and Wisdom for Worn-Out Caregivers
by Christopher-Charles Chaney
Humor infuses this mix of practical caregiving advice and personal anecdotes from author Christopher-Charles Chaney’s experience caring for his aging mother. The first in a planned series of caregiving books, "Mama Peaches and Me" is written both for new and experienced caregivers as they learn to cope with common caregiving problems like stress, burnout and depression. Many of the real-life stories Chaney shares will likely resonate with caregivers, and may spark some much-needed laughs.
8. The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Honor Your Aging Parents
by Jane Daly
Author Jane Daly offers up insights from her experience caring for her aging parents and advice for how to cope with common challenges that caring for elderly parents brings. To name just a few of the issues covered in the book: how to know when your aging parent should stop driving, juggling care for your aging parents and growing children and grappling with common caregiving emotions like guilt. The book is written from the perspective of Daly’s Christian faith, but could easily apply to followers of different belief systems.