Here’s a short list of books that have helped me on this journey:
“And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer” by Fredrick Backman. This novella, originally published in Swedish in 2015, gave me the gift, just last week, of being able to grieve for the loss of who my mom used to be, rather than be continually frustrated with who she is now. Granted, I still get frustrated, but am able to reach back to the person I so dearly miss. This book had me smiling and crying. It’s cathartic.
“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. No one says it better than Amazon:
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, NPR, and Chicago Tribune, now in paperback with a new reading group guide
Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should.
Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients’ anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them.
In his bestselling books, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, has fearlessly revealed the struggles of his profession. Now he examines its ultimate limitations and failures-in his own practices as well as others’-as life draws to a close. Riveting, honest, and humane, Being Mortal shows how the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life-all the way to the very end
“Mom’s Losing Her Memory, I’m Losing My Mind!: Taking Care of Mom and Dad with Memory Decline” by Kathy Jean Stewart. This was the first narrative book I read after my mom’s diagnosis. It was like reading about my life as a care giver. By page seven I was reading out loud to my husband. Kathy Stewart has been a Registered Nurse for more than thirty years, providing intimate guidance for aging adults with memory decline. The author was, and is again my daughter’s boss, an expert in the field of elder care.
“Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death” by Katy Butler. This poignant, personal, and at times humorous book, gives insight to Katy’s profound, and long distance journey helping her mom navigate her father’s dementia and death, and then Katy supporting her mother’s choices and dignity as she reached the end of her life. I read this book during my father-in-law’s last year as he struggled with Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia, and found it incredibly informative.