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Recommended Reading for Caregivers - Aging Wisely

We often get asked for book recommendations about subjects related to caregiving, eldercare, and aging. Here are a few that we have enjoyed and would like to share with you:


Solie, David. How to Say it to Seniors. Sept. 2004. 224p. Prentice Hall Press, $10.85 (0735203806).

This book examines communication with seniors from a developmental perspective. By framing the developmental tasks of later life against the differing “missions and agendas” of the family members and professionals who are often attempting the communication, the book offers a better understanding of the underlying issues. As the author states, “the goal of (the book) is to help readers improve their relationships with this elder generation that deserves our best efforts in facilitating their compelling end-of-life tasks. By doing so, we have the privilege of retrieving a world that might be lost to us forever and enriching our lives in ways we can’t imagine.”

Throughout the book, the author uses specific examples and stories to illustrate the theory and ideas he presents. He delves in to the need for control at a time when one if often losing control through physical and other losses and the task of creating a legacy. Using this background, he then touches on some of the communication patterns and “typical” dilemmas many older adults face (housing/living arrangements, managing health, becoming widowed) and offers skills to enhance communication in these situations. The concrete skills and the “how to say it” and “how not to say it” sections provide practical advice for anyone.

Read more for David Solie,


O’Dell, Carol D. Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir. 2007. 208p. Kunati, $19.95 (1-60164-003-X).

Information from the site:

Mothering Mother is not simply a how-to book on caregiving. Mothering Mother touches on what our relationships do to us, how they impact our souls, our beliefs—beliefs about ourselves, about life and the quality of life, about faith and hope and finally, about death.

Mothering Mother is an authentic and “in-the-room” view of a daughter’s struggle to care for an aging parent. It will touch you and never leave you. You will be astonished at Carol’s brutal honesty. Her ability to narrate the feelings of the moment—love, grief, humor and even those moments of bitter resentment—will both reassure and arm you for the day when you may face a similar choice. Find out why, so many say, “I loved this book!”

O’Dell, a member of the “sandwich generation”—made up of boomers taking care of both their own children and their elderly parents—portrays the experience of looking after a mother suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s with brutal honesty and refreshing grace. She peppers the memoir with scenes from her past, including meeting her adoptive parents (“The first time I saw Mama, I was four years old”) and the death of her father. With three children of her own, O’Dell is torn in multiple directions, trying to be mother, daughter, nurse, cook, caregiver, maid, and more to five needy people. Mama’s neediness is unrelenting, and O’Dell is at once bitter and sorry that her mother cannot be who she was. When the inevitable end comes, O’Dell wonders why she longed for the free time she now finds lonely and empty. A beautiful rendering of a difficult but all-too-common situation, told with plenty of humor, a touch of martyrdom, and much love. Booklist: “Beautiful, told with humor…and much love.”

See our interview with Carol, part of her “Virtual Book Tour”.


Pipher, Mary. Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders. 1999. 328p. Riverhead Books, $24.95. (1-57322-129-5)

“If age is another country, then we must all learn to speak its language”. This book is a “field guide to this foreign landscape”. Dr. Pipher writes from her experiences as a therapist and shows us through her stories, the challenges and triumphs of bridging the communication gap and dealing with the familial impacts of aging.


Delehanty, Hugh & Ginzler, Elinor. Caring for Your Parents: The Complete AARP Guide. 2005. 221 p. AARP, $19.95. (1-4027-1739-3)

A roadmap/resource guide to caring for aging parents, starting with how to broach the subject and covering topics such as scams and protecting your parents, navigating Medicare, physical changes, caregiving help and living arrangements. A good starting point to review key issues and understand terminology and resources that may be out there to help.

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