Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey. The story takes place entirely in the mind of the family’s matriarch who believes that her best friend has been murdered. Her dementia makes her an unreliable narrator making this a very different kind of mystery.

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein. Accompanied by his son, the main character returns to his childhood home and struggles with the dementia of his father.

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas is a story about a man’s early-onset dementia and how it affects his family for decades.

What Has Mother Done? by Barbara Petty Two sisters receive news that their stepfather is dead and fly back home. They are soon advised that their mother, who has Alzheimer’s, is the prime suspect. While this book is a murder mystery, it does a good job of portraying the disagreement between the two sisters as to the best plan for their mother, the personality changes and range of confusion with islands of lucidity displayed by their mother, and the fear that the person you are trying to protect just might be guilty.

Books That Became Movies

Elegy for Iris by John Bayley is a true story about the English novelist Iris Murdoch and her journey into Alzheimer’s. The movie, Iris: A memoir of Iris Murdoch, stars Jim Broadbent, Judi Dench, and Kate Winslet. Broadbent won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2001.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. A husband tries to keep his wife’s memories alive by reading to her from his notebook. The movie stars James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Ryan Gosling, and Rachel McAdams. The movie is billed as a romance and is directed by Nick Cassavetes.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova was made into a movie starring Julianne Moore who plays a linguistics professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Moore earned the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal in the 2014 movie.


Age Old Friends, released in 1989, is billed as a comedy and stars Hume Cronym and Vincent Gardenia who become friends in a retirement home. Gardenia’s character starts to show signs of dementia placing his friend in the position of having to make a choice between his family and his friend.

A Song for Martin A Swedish movie about a conductor/composer and his violinist wife. Martin develops Alzheimer’s. The movie provides a realistic picture of caregiving. English subtitles.

Aurora Borealis Donald Sutherland’s character has dementia and his wife, played by Louise Fletcher, hires a home health aide to help out as his needs become too much for her. This movie is about relationships and difficult choices.

Away from Her Julie Christie received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a woman who voluntarily enters a facility to avoid being a burden on her husband. After a recommended month-long separation, the husband visits only to discover that his wife barely remembers him and is now involved with another resident.

Firefly Dreams, released in 2001 is a Japanese film about a troubled teenager who is sent to relatives and put to work caring for a neighbor who has dementia. English subtitles.

The Savages stars Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman as siblings who are caring for their father. It is billed as “a tragic comedy.”

Where’s Poppa? This is a comedy from 1970. Two brothers, played by George Segal and Ron Leibman, try to take care of their mother whose dementia is ruining their love lives, their safety, and their own sanity. Their mother is played by the wonderful Ruth Gordon. The movie was directed by Carl Reiner. As many years ago as it was I saw this movie, I still remember laughing hard and long.