I'm often asked what's the "best book" for caregivers of persons affected by dementia. I've managed to narrow my suggestions down to two hadbooks that I like in particular. Both of them cover Alzheimer's Disease as well as other dementias, cognitive impairments, and memory loss late in life.
When Your Loved One Has Dementia by Joy A. Glenner et al. (John Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0-8018-8114-5, 137 pages). This short, well-organized book lives up to its title as "A Simple Guide For Caregivers". There are six chapters, all emphasizing the importance of good communications with family members as a method of ensuring the best possible quality of life for everyone involved. The handbook is written in a conversational style that is supportive and clear. From recognition of early warning signs of cognitive impairment to choosing a long-term care facility, the authors cover all of the basic issues without burdening the reader with excessive detail. The sections on effective communication techniques, managing behavior problems, and safety assessment are very practical. Helpful checklists make assessment straightforward.
The 36-Hour Day by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins (John Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0-8018-8509-4, 324 pages). This has been a classic in the caregiving literature for more than twenty-five years. It's a longer book that goes into more detail on some topics. It does an excellent job of explaining the wide range of cognitive deficits that can occur, and stresses the importance of accurate assessment and evaluation for a person with a suspected dementia. Characteristic behavioral symptoms and changes in mood and ideation are explained in detail. The impact of cognitive deficits on practical life and independent living, such as no longer being able to drive a car or manage money, all have specific impact on support needs. A wide range of problems arising in daily care and medical problems are examined in detail.
I get a lot of memoirs submitted for review. These all describe a specific caregiving experience that someone had with a loved one with dementia. Because the actual situation you are in may be very different from that of someone else, with different types of cognitive impairment, social support, financial resources, and relationships, many of these memoirs aren't specifically relevant to your case. That said, one of the more interesting recent memoirs I've read is "The Last of His Mind: A Year in the Shadow of Alzheimer's" by John Thorndike (Swallow Press, ISBN 978-0-8040-1122). What's unusual about this memoir is that it is written by a man describing his experience caring for his father. It's also exceptionally well-written, making it stand out from the pack of memoirs that often are written as part of a personal process of healing by a caregiver.
The author's father was Joe Thornkike, the managing editor of Life at the height of its popularity after World War II. Dad Thornkike was the author and editor of dozens of books, and the founder of American Heritage and Horizon magazines. By the age of ninety-one, in a short span of about six months, his impressive brain went to pieces and he lost even basic cognitive skills. The memoir is a moving account of how his now-adult son cared for his failing father in the last year of his life.
There are gender differences in coping styles, and a great many memoirs are written by women. The chance to read a "guy's book" about dementia is a rare and insightful experience. A few old photographs show a 1950's family that reminds me of myself when I was a boy. One picture (p. 64) shows the author as a teenager home for Christmas from boarding school sitting on a sofa with his mother. The young man sits impassively, drawing backwards slightly from his mother, who leans forward toward him with a loving smile. He is not looking back at her, and his pursed lips and folded arms across his chest suggest that he is doing his work as an adolescent boy, finding how to withdraw from mother and find strength within himself as a man. Guys will get what I mean.