Chances are good that if a family member needs care it will be for Mom
or Grandma. Statistics show that women live five to 10 years longer than
men and in the centenarian population 85% are women.
As people age, they may need more help around the house, especially if
they have developed a chronic condition or degenerative disease such as
dementia. According to the
Alzheimer’s Association, almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
In light of these numbers and the probability of caring for a loved one,
we want to share a few of the books available that give insight, humor,
and advice when and if this becomes your role. There are many, many books
on this topic, so we just chose a few favorites here.
Books by Caregivers
Measure of the Heart by Mary Ellen Geist
Geist leaves her job as a CBS radio anchor to provide respite care for
her mother who is caregiving for her husband, Geist’s father. The
book includes advice on how caregivers can take care of themselves.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir by Roz Chast
Cartoonist Roz Chast brings humor to the often difficult times of not
just providing care but choosing long-term care for one’s parents.
A Bittersweet Season: Caring For Our Aging Parents—And Ourselves by Jane Gross
New York Times reporter and founder of the paper’s
New Old Age blog Jane Gross became a caretaker for her 85-year old mother and got
a crash course in how demanding this role can be. This book is filled
with practical advice and serves as a guidebook for those who will walk
in her caregiving shoes.
Caring for Mother: A Daughter’s Long Goodbye by Virginia Stem Owens
Author Virginia Stem Owens spent seven years caring for her mother with
Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease and writes about
her own spiritual challenges and personal experience.
The Long Goodbye: A Memoir by Meghan O’Rourke
After losing her mother to cancer, Meghan O’Rourke writes about
how caring for her mother during her illness brought them closer together.
Books by Experts
How to Care for Aging Parents: A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical,
Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues (3rd Edition, 2014) by Virginia Morris
Much like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” for
parents-to-be, this book has been called “indispensable” and
“easy to understand.”
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer’s
Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss (5th Edition, 2012) by Nancy L. Mace, MA and Peter V. Rabins, MD,
MPH Called “the bible” for families affected by dementia,
this book covers the stages of dementia and the appropriate care choices
for these different stages.
My Mother, Your Mother: Embracing “Slow Medicine,” the Compassionate
Approach to Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones by Dennis McCullough, MD
A guidebook for caring for a loved one from a family doctor and geriatrician,
who shares his experiences in caring for his own mother.
Statistically, the odds are good that you will be, if not actually caring
for your mother or another family member, making decisions about their
care. The National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP,
found in 2009 that 29% of the United States population (or more than 65
million people) will “provide care for a chronically ill, disabled
or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average
of 20 hours a week providing care for their loved one.”
Also that the “typical family caregiver is a 49-year old woman caring
for her widowed 69-year old mother who does not live with her.”
Reading about the experiences of others who have already walked this caregiving
path can potentially make your own time spent as a caregiver easier and
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Not everyone has the same prevalence for dementia, and research shows that African Americans have a significantly higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.