Health & Wellness

Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

Caring for a loved one is a tough job, one that many of us take on willingly with love and honor. There are so many things to worry about—physical and mental difficulties, financial and legal issues, and day-to-day care. When you are caring for a loved one with dementia you’re looking at unique challenges. Being a caregiver for someone with dementia can be frustrating, exhausting, and just plain lonely. When someone you care for has dementia, you’re also living with it, but you’re not alone.

How the Library Can Help

The Library can offer connection:

  • to information
  • to resources
  • to entertainment
  • to respite and self-care

There is so much information out there about Alzheimer’s disease and dementias. There are news sources, social media, even your neighbor down the street. What source do you trust? Which information do you pick? Using The Library can connect you to trusted sources in a way that’s convenient for you.

Dementia Resources in the Library Catalog and on Book Lists

The Library’s catalog includes book lists created by staff members to help you navigate the sometimes overwhelming amount of material available. If you see a book you like, you can find out where it’s located. If it isn’t at your neighborhood branch you can place a hold and have it sent to the branch that’s most convenient for you.

Articles about Dementia in Online Databases

Another way to find information is by searching online databases that the Library subscribes to. Many times the latest research or resource is available in a magazine or journal article. Through the databases, you can find an articles that could help with a specific challenge or interest. For instance, we did a search for articles about music therapy and Alzheimer’s published in the last five years and found a wealth of articles.

What makes this even more convenient is that the book lists, The Library’s catalog, and the articles can all be reached through your home computer, your tablet, or your smartphone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Reading Aloud

Reading aloud with your adult loved one improves family bonds and fosters cooperation, just like when you read to children. Many programs in memory care involve reading aloud or looking at picture books to improve cognition, memory, and quality of life.

Picture books, especially with larger type and fewer words, are often easier to see and understand. Did you read classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar when you were a child? You can read this again and share your memories with your loved one.

In addition to children’s books, people with dementia also enjoy coffee-table books and travel books filled with photographs and illustrations. Books like Penguins by Frans Lanting or Indianapolis: Then and Now by Nelson Price provide large photographs that can stimulate conversation and memories for both the loved one with dementia and their caregivers.

e-Books & Streaming

If you feel you can’t get to a Library location, you can choose e-book picture books to download to your computer or mobile device through OverDriveHoopla, or TumbleBooks Library.


Books aren’t the only place you can look for colorful pictures and photographs; magazines are a great resource. Most back issues of magazines can be checked out at branch locations. There is a large number of magazines available for viewing and downloading online through Flipster and OverDrive Magazines.

Reading aloud together, looking at books and pictures together can provide not only connection with your loved one, but a respite for both of you while caring for a loved one with dementia.


Whether it’s music from the past or a catchy tune, it’s heartening to see a friend or loved one living with dementia respond to a piece of music, sometimes by moving or swaying to a Motown beat, other times by singing all the verses to Silent Night, remembering all the words when many of us couldn’t get past the first few lines.

While you may think of the public library as a connection to the wider world through books, it’s also a connection through music.

With a library card, you can:

  • Borrow a wide variety of music on CDs, from early classical to the latest hip hop, and everything in between.
  • Borrow and stream a wide variety of music directly to your computer or mobile device through Hoopla without being on a waiting list or waiting for your branch to open.
  • The library’s connection with music extends to free live concerts & performances throughout the year. See our schedule of music performances.

It’s an opportunity for an outing that doesn’t involve tickets, dressing up, or an entire evening’s commitment; time watching beautiful music made in a comfortable setting, which could make the afternoon caring for a loved one with dementia enjoyable for both of you.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter, Indiana is home to 110,000 Hoosiers living with Alzheimer’s disease and 338,000 unpaid Indiana caregivers. Thankfully, there is a growing number of resources available to navigate the often-complicated and frustrating journey of caring for someone with dementia.

Title - The 36-hour DayTitle - The Dementia CaregiverTitle - Love in the Land of DementiaTitle - An Unintended Journey

  • Brain Health – IndyPL_LeahK

    Last year, my Dad was diagnosed with Vascular Parkinsonism and recently suffered two strokes. In helping me understand my dad’s diagnosis and possibly find steps he could take to slow the disease, I started checking out books, lots of them, all about the brain. This list is perhaps more personal than other lists I share. I hope it helps you think about healthy decisions you can make in your life to promote brain health.

  • Caregiving for Older Adults – IndyPL_CarriG

    While taking care of a loved one can be an overwhelming and often thankless task, Indianapolis has a lot of resources to try to help caregivers and their loved ones. Check out the following combination of books, online resources, videos, and local organzations. And always remember to contact your favorite branch if you have questions or need more resources. Library staff are there to help you find the information you need!

Ask a Library staff member at any of our locations or call, text, or email Ask-a-Librarian.