The best books to help understand dementia

The best books to help understand dementia

This gripping book won the Costa First Novel Award, and you’ll be able to see why from page one. Its hero – against all the odds – is an elderly woman suffering from dementia. Maud is forgetful, and yet knows there’s a mystery she must investigate. You’ll be rooting for Maud as she fights the fug of her memory to solve this 70-year-old riddle and find her friend Elizabeth. An excellent insight into a confused but compassionate mind.

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova

Keep your tissues handy for this moving novel, which follows university professor Alice Howland as she experiences the trauma of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Her family is left reeling as she is left unable to care for herself, and yet there’s still a hint of the brilliant woman she once was – she’s still Alice, deep down. You may have seen the film, which starred Julianne Moore, but the book is also worth a go, as long as your waterproof mascara holds up to the challenge.

Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything, by Sally Magnusson

Sally and her sisters cared for their mother Mamie for many years after she was diagnosed with dementia. Once one of the finest journalists of her generation, the disease robbed Mamie of her precious memories and her affinity for words. This memoir contains fascinating expert opinions around the subject, as well as recording the family’s personal story.

Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver

When Codi Noline returns to her childhood home in Arizona she finds her father, a doctor, is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He’s still self-sufficient but his health is starting to dwindle in a way that will impact on their relationship as he comes to reluctantly rely on his daughter. It’s quite complex in its writing style, and its focus is on Codi’s life as a whole rather than just her relationship with her father, but it’s a gripping story and an interesting take on how roles change for parents and children as we age.

Whatever it Takes, by Adele Parks

Former chick-lit queen Parks tackles the thorny issue of dementia in a novel told alternately from the perspective of a young mother and her mother-in-law who is suffering with Alzheimer’s. Inspired by anecdotes told by her friends who were looking after ageing relatives, she spent months spending time with dementia sufferers and their families before writing the book. The result is a warm, moving family tale.


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