Alzheimer's blog

A few favorites for caregivers during this season of giving

By Angela Lunde November 27, 2012

We all have our favorite things — favorite color, vacation spot, article of clothing, movie, memory. In this giving season, I thought I'd share with you my list of favorites in the category of caregiving.

I'm including books, guides, gifts, affirmations and even my favorite words to live by. Some of these have remained on my favorites list for more than a decade, others are more recent. And of course there are those favorites I've yet to discover, so I'm hoping you'll share yours.

My favorite books

  • "Your Name Is Hughes Hannibal Shanks: A Caregiver's Guide to Alzheimer's," Lela Knox Shanks. (The most worn book on my shelf, first came out in 1996, Second edition in 2005).
  • "Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple's Journey Through Alzheimer's," Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle
  • "Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence," Gail Sheehy
  • "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope while Coping with Stress and Grief," Pauline Boss, Ph.D.
  • "Inside Alzheimer's: How to Hear and Honor Connections with a Person who has Dementia," Nancy Pearce
  • "Through the Wilderness of Alzheimer's: A Guide in Two Voices," Robert and Ann Simpson
  • "A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer's Care, A Guide for Family Caregivers," Virginia Bell and David Troxel
  • "Forget Memory: Creating Better Lives for People with Dementia," Anne Basting
  • "Speaking Our Minds: What It's Like to Have Alzheimer's, Revised Edition," Lisa Snyder

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of the "The Alzheimer's Prevention Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Boost Brain Health," by Dr. Marwan Sabbagh and Beau MacMillan. I may not call this my new favorite book, but the recipes look incredibly delicious and full of the stuff that is good for all of us (antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and omega-3's).

Booklets and guides

  • "Living Well: A Guide for Persons with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) & Early Dementia."
  • "Pressure Points: Alzheimer's and Anger," by Edna Ballard, Lisa Gwyther and T. Patrick Toal. A booklet about sources of anger and strategies for families and professionals.

Both booklets are available at the Alzheimer’s Association website.

Favorite gifts for family caregivers

  • The gift of time and respite. This might be a gift certificate (or handmade coupons) toward house cleaning, homemade meals, shoveling or other lawn care, or for providing respite time that allows the caregiver time off to focus on what they want or need. Gift certificates for restaurants, laundry/dry cleaning services (consider those that deliver), computer/technology support. Definitely consider personal pampering services such as massages, facials and manicures/pedicures.
  • Books. In addition to an enjoyable fiction or nonfiction book, see my list of favorites above.
  • A DVR/TiVo with a year's worth of services that will allow caregivers to record favorite shows they may not be able watch in real time but can enjoy later during downtime.
  • A journal for writing down thoughts and feelings about being a caregiver. Journaling is a healing way to process thoughts and emotions.
  • Candles, lavender oil for the bath, music — anything to create a calming space.

Favorite caregiver affirmations

  • There are no perfect solutions and there are no perfect families.
  • I can only do my best and be dependable. I can't do it all.
  • The person living with dementia is not unhappy or upset simply because of their disease or me. They are living with unwanted dependency and loss. They need to feel useful, dignified and loved.
  • Acceptance is not liking or agreeing with my situation. It's simply making peace with the way things are today.
  • There are many things I can't control.
  • I made the best decision I could at the time.
  • I can forgive myself.
  • I get angry and feel guilty because I love.

Some of my favorite words to live by

  • "We must be willing to let go of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." — Joseph Campbell
  • "Care-providing presents us with the challenge of a lifetime, and the hardest task many of us will ever face. But the extraordinary circumstances in which it places us are also opportunities to open up new frontiers in human development and understanding." — Lela Knox Shanks, author of "Your Name is Hughes Hannibal Shanks."
  • Note to self: You are enough, you have enough, you do enough.

Yours in support,


Nov. 27, 2012