I read a plethora of books on the subject of caregiving and aging during the years I accompanied my mother . . . and beyond. They were my lifeline. They made me feel known. I hope you find some here that resonate with you.
Berg, Elizabeth — I’ll Be Seeing You: A Memoir
When Berg’s father developed Alzheimer’s disease, and her parents were forced to leave the home they loved and move into a facility that could offer them help, it was time for the couple’s children to offer, to the best of their abilities, practical advice, emotional support, and direction—to, in effect, parent the people who had for so long parented them. It was a hard transition, mitigated at least by flashes of humor and joy.
Butler, Katy — Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death
Like millions of Americans caring for aging parents, award-winning science writer Katy Butler assumed that her beloved mother and father would meet death on their own terms, free from medical overdoing. She was wrong. With a poet’s eye, a daughter’s love, and an investigative reporter’s skill, Butler lays bare the wrenching moral choices we face when the ancient reality of death collides with the technological imperatives of modern medicine.
Butler, Katy — The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life
The Art of Dying Well is about living as well as possible for as long as possible and adapting successfully to change. Packed with extraordinarily helpful insights and inspiring true stories, award-winning journalist Katy Butler shows how to thrive in later life (even when coping with a chronic medical condition), how to get the best from our health system, and how to make your own “good death” more likely.
Callanan, Maggie & Patricia Kelley — Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying
In this moving and compassionate book, hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years experience tending the terminally ill.
Casey, Nell; Ed — An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers on Caring for Family
A growing number of Americans find themselves caught between the needs of elderly parents and young children, as medical advances extend lives and health insurance fails to cover them. This compelling book offers both literary solace and guidance to the people who find themselves witness to—and participants in—the fading lives of their intimates. Some of the country’s most accomplished writers offer frank insights and revelations about this complex relationship.
Clooney, Eleanor — Death in Slow Motion: My Mother’s Descent into Alzheimer’s
When her once-glamorous and witty novelist-mother got Alzheimer’s, Eleanor Cooney moved her from her beloved Connecticut home to California in order to care for her. In tense, searing prose, punctuated with the blackest of humor, Cooney documents the slow erosion of her mother’s mind, the powerful bond the two shared, and her own descent into drink and despair.
Davis, Laura — The Burning Light of Two Stars
From a safe distance of three thousand miles, Laura and her mother, Temme, reconciled their volatile relationship and believed that their difficult past was behind them. But when Temme moves across the country to entrust her daughter with the rest of her life, she brings a faltering mind, a fierce need for independence, and the seeds of a second war between them. As the stresses of caregiving rekindle Laura’s rage over past betrayals, they threaten her intention to finally love her mother “without reservation.” Will she learn what it means to be truly openhearted before it’s too late?
Fransson, Catherine — Loving the Enemy: When the Favorite Parent Dies First
A chronicle of the author’s ongoing contention with her demanding father throughout her life until his decline in health in his late 90s. When her mother died before him, Catherine grappled with how to care for him in other than tense estrangement. This memoir reveals how estrangement can be overcome with courage, time and an open heart.
Gawande, Atul — Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.
Goyer, Amy — Juggling Life, Work, and Caregiving
AARP’s gentle guide provides practical resources and tips that are easy to find when you need them, whether you’re caregiving day to day, planning for future needs, or in the middle of a crisis. Equally important, this book helps you care for the caregiver―you―before, during, and after caregiving.
Gross, Jane — A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents — and Ourselves
When Jane Gross found herself suddenly thrust into a caretaker role for her eighty-five year-old mother, she was forced to face challenges that she had never imagined. As she and her younger brother struggled to move her mother into an assisted living facility, deal with seemingly never-ending costs, and adapt to the demands on her time and psyche, she learned valuable and important lessons.
Hafner, Katie — Mother Daughter Me
The complex, deeply binding relationship between mothers and daughters is brought vividly to life in Katie Hafner’s remarkable memoir, an exploration of the year she and her mother, Helen, spent working through, and triumphing over, a lifetime of unresolved emotions.
Harris, Lisa Ohlen — The Fifth Season: A Daughter-in-law’s Memoir of Caregiving
Lisa Ohlen Harris shared a household with her mother-in-law, Jeanne, for seven years. When Jeanne’s health deteriorated due to COPD, Harris became one of 65 million American family caregivers. The two women grew so intertwined that Harris began to feel she herself was the one fading away.
When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself—an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook—in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can’t bring himself to force her from the home both treasure—the place where his father’s voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.
Kelly, Joanne Tubbs —Walking Him Home: Helping My Husband Die with Dignity
Alan and Joanne marry in midlife and live a happily-ever-after existence until, at sixty-nine, Alan is diagnosed with a rare, fatal, neurodegenerative illness. As he becomes increasingly disabled and dependent on others, and decreasingly able to find joy in life, he decides he wants to end his suffering using Colorado’s Medical Aid in Dying law.
Johnson, Plum — They Left Us Everything
After almost twenty years of caring for elderly parents—first for their senile father, and then for their cantankerous ninety-three-year old mother—author Plum Johnson and her three younger brothers have finally fallen to their middle-aged knees with conflicted feelings of grief and relief. Now they must empty and sell the beloved family home, twenty-three rooms bulging with history, antiques, and oxygen tanks. Plum thought: How tough will that be? I know how to buy garbage bags.
Lake, Nell — The Caregivers: A Support Group Story of Slow Loss, Courage, and Love
In 2010, journalist Nell Lake began sitting in on the weekly meetings of a local hospital’s caregivers support group. Soon members invited her into their lives. For two years, she brought empathy, insight, and an eye for detail to understanding Penny, a fifty-year-old botanist caring for her aging mother; Daniel, a survivor of Nazi Germany who tends his ailing wife; William, whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s; and others with whom all caregivers will identify.
Maeder, Jo — When I Married My Mother
An irreverent DJ and die-hard New Yorker braces for disaster when she moves to the Bible Belt to care for her estranged, doll-obsessed, hoarder mother. What unfolds in this best-selling memoir is a hilarious, heartbreaking love story that sees eldercare and making peace with the past in a most unexpected way.
Michelberg, Rachel — Crash: How I Became a Reluctant Caregiver
Rachel likes to think of herself as a nice Jewish girl, dedicated to doing what’s honorable, just as her parents raised her to do. But when her husband, David, survives a plane crash and is left with severe brain damage, she faces a choice: will she dedicate her life to caring for a man she no longer loves, or walk away?
Pipher, Mary — Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders
Another Country is a field guide to a rough terrain for a generation of baby boomers who are finding themselves unprepared to care for those who have always cared for them. Psychologist and bestselling writer Mary Pipher maps out strategies that help bridge the gaps that separate us from our elders. And with her inimitable combination of respect and realism, she offers us new ways of supporting each other—new ways of sharing our time, our energy, and our love.
Reichl, Ruth — For You Mom, Finally
In For You Mom, Finally, bestselling author Ruth Reichl embarks on a clear-eyed, openhearted investigation of her mother’s life, piecing together the journey of a woman she comes to realize she never really knew. Looking to her mother’s letters and diaries, Reichl confronts the painful transition her mother made from a hopeful young woman to an increasingly unhappy older one and realizes the tremendous sacrifices she made to make sure her daughter’s life would not be as disappointing as her own.
Sheehy, Gail — Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence
In this essential guide, the acclaimed expert on the now aging Baby Boomer generation outlines nine crucial steps for effective, successful family caregiving, turning chaos into confidence during this most crucial of life stages.
Simpson, Virginia — The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life
As a bereavement care specialist, Dr. Virginia Simpson has devoted her career to counseling individuals and families grappling with illness, death, and grieving. But when her own mother, Ruth, is diagnosed in 1999 with a life-threatening condition, Virginia is caught off guard by the storm of emotions she experiences when she is forced to inhabit the role of caregiver.
Staebler, Gretchen — Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver
Gretchen Staebler promises one year to live with her elderly, stubbornly independent mother, clean out the house her parents had stashed with musty history for five decades, and move her mother into assisted living. Four years later, daughter and mother are still in the kitchen fighting over food and territory, dementia and blindness in this fierce, compassionate, humorous memoir of self-discovery and forgiveness.
Tisdale, Sallie — Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying
An exploration of the heartbreaking, beautiful, terrifying, confusing, absurd, even joyful experiences that accompany the work of dying.
Tweit, Susan — Bless the Birds: Living with Love in a Time of Dying
Writer and botanist Susan Tweit and her economist-turned-sculptor husband Richard Cabe had just settled into their version of a “good life” when Richard saw thousands of birds one day—harbingers of the brain cancer that would kill him two years later. Not a sad story, Bless the Birds is an exploration of living with love in a time of dying, whether personal or global. It is an invitation to live in the light of what we love rather than the darkness of what we fear.
Witchel, Alex — All Gone: A Memoir of my Mother’s Dementia, with Refreshments
Just past seventy, Alex Witchel’s smart, adoring, ultra-capable mother began to exhibit undeniable signs of dementia. Her smart, adoring, ultra-capable daughter reacted as she’d been raised: If something was broken, they would fix it. But as medical reality undid that hope, and her mother continued the torturous process of disappearing in plain sight, Witchel retreated to the kitchen, trying to reclaim her mother at the stove by cooking the comforting foods of her childhood: “Is there any contract tighter than a family recipe?”