Best Books on Aging Parents

By:  Richard Caro   |  Posted: January 12, 2015   |  Updated: April 5, 2023


Over the last 18 months I have talked with literally hundreds of people who have realized they now have an extra “job” that they were not expecting: engaging one way or another in looking out for an aging parent. Many of them wanted a “guide” to Caring for Aging Parents, and asked for recommendations.

Sure enough, there are a number of books on Aging Parents on Amazon. I decided I wanted to find the most popular, and then read them and see whether I could identify a handful of them to recommend next time someone asks for a “Guide”.

This article is the first installment in my journey and focuses on which are the top selling books in this category (presumably the ones others have found most relevant). The second installment, in which I review the books after reading them, is here: Caring for & Dealing with Elderly Parents.


Parenting the Parents

In some cases “parenting the parents” takes the form of actually caring for that elderly parent. But in other cases it is more subtle. The parent is still active and functioning well, but due to loss of a spouse, or progression of the slow but insidious aging process, needs a bit of help or even a bit of guidance or oversight.

It’s almost as if there is a role reversal going on in which the adult children start to slowly take on some of the characteristics of a “parent” for their parents.


A Guide to Aging Parents

A number of times I have been in a discussion and someone said “You know, there really needs to be a guide to parenting the parents, or a guide to what you do when you have aging parents”.

And it’s easy to imagine what might be in such a guide. There would be an introductory chapter describing the whole process of role reversal, and how and why it is likely to manifest itself.

Then there would be a chapter about the top areas in which an aging parent is likely to need help. These would likely include some help managing investments and finances. Some help getting various legal documents in order (wills, durable powers of atorney, health powers and the like). And much more.

Chapter 3 might talk about the emotional and psychological challenges for the adult child who is suddenly faced with the need to learn this new skill set while most likely also in the midst of parenting her own children and maybe working full time as well.

You get the idea.


Books on Aging Parents: Exploring Amazon

In the past, this might have involved a trip to the bookstore and asking for some advice. Or even the friendly librarian. These days, Amazon is the first stop.

Sure enough, the term “aging parents” leads to 480 books in the Kindle store alone. [I focused on e-Books because that is so much simpler these days than buying an actual book!]

The next step in my detective story was to hunt through this list, do some additional searches under other relevant terms, and come up with a “short list” of interesting and relevant seeming books relating to aging parents, or the concept of “parenting the parents”. This not-very-scientific process netted me a list with about 50 books on it.

If I believed in judging the book by its cover, I could have stopped there. But I decided I wanted to see which of these books were selling the best. Now the Amazon search does not rank solely on sales. So I needed another tool to figure out sales rank for each of my 50 book titles. I used Novel Rank. You can see the results below.


Most Popular Books on Aging Parents.

Here is a list of the top ten books (by sales rank) taken from my short list (that was a subset of a much larger list I found on Amazon, with rather subjective criteria used to narrow it down). The best seller is at the top, with each lower row in the table selling progressively less in quantity.

Note: If you click on the title links, you will be taken to Amazon where you can read more about each book and buy them if you want. [Disclosure: If you end up buying one after clicking on these links, Amazon gives us a few pennies from their revenues.]

The Top Ten List (by Sales Jan. 8 2015).


RankTitle & Author
 1Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir.

Author(s): Roz Chast

 2How to Care for Aging Parents, 3rd Edition: A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues 

Author(s): Virginia Morris, Jennie Chin Hansen

 3Coping with Your Difficult Older Parent: A Guide For Stressed Out Children

Author(s): Grace Lebow, Barbara Kane, Irwin Lebow

 4My Mother, Your Mother: What to Expect As Parents Age

Author(s): Dennis McCullough

 5AARP The Other Talk: A Guide to Talking with Your Adult Children about the Rest of Your Life

Author(s): Tim Prosch

 6Sundown Syndrome (Caring for Aging Parents Book 1)

Author(s): Edie Dykeman

 7How To Say It (R) to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders
Author(s): David Solie
 8A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents–and Ourselves

Author(s): Jane Gross

 9The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent
Author(s): Barry J. Jacobs
 10How to Protect Your Family’s Assets From Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets (8th ed.)

Author(s): K. Gabriel Heiser


What I Learned

Update: I have read the books on this list now. You can see some of my analysis and criticism in the next installment here: Caring for & Dealing with Elderly Parents.



More about this topic

If you want to read more of our work on the topic of caring for aging parents,

See all our content in the category of Helping Elderly Parents




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