Each caregiver who endeavors to write a book offers a unique perspective on caregiving. Robin Porter’s The Complete Caregiver’s Organizer – Your Guide to Caring for Yourself while Caring for Others accomplishes this in two notable ways.
Before addressing these, I was struck by inclusion of the word “complete” in the title. After all, each author offers a different approach that fills some caregivers’ needs but not all. A definitive title begs the question: Is this a comprehensive one-stop guide for caregivers?
Digging into the pages of the advance reading copy, I kept thinking about The Family Guide to Aging Parents reviewed at The Caregiver’s Voice Review. I found this title to take a truly comprehensive approach by family caregiver, Carolyn Rosenblatt, who is also an elder law attorney and an RN. Her book remains on my shelf of resource titles.
Returning to the attractively designed final edition that arrived a few weeks later, The Complete Caregiver’s Organizer offers two unique characteristics among other caregiving books.
One, it is the only book I recall in recent years that includes an entire chapter (30 pages) to nutrition and exercise recommendations for the caregiver and care recipient. Robin encourages caregivers and care recipients to eat healthier and exercise more. She emphasizes that even though we may focus less on these two areas, they become increasingly important the older we get and help delay or ward off illness. Her solutions to the challenges of doing both (e.g., lack of interest, loss of taste) are remarkably refreshing.
Another note worth mentioning before addressing the second unique point about the book is Robin’s observation in an earlier chapter on the stigma around using aids to help maintain independence. She writes: Ironically, the same tools that are designed to preserve independence, such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, grab bars, and other safety measures, are often viewed as the first step in losing one’s freedom.
Two, it comes as a beautifully designed spiral bound edition with pocketed tab dividers. With most of my reading and work at the computer during recent years, much of my physical book reading occurs in bed. The words are the last things I see before drifting off to sleep allowing my brain to digest them prior to the next reading session. Holding the book up while lying down, proved to be a bit clunky to handle. It reminds me of a lay-flat recipe book. I wonder how fellow caregivers will use it. Will they set it on a counter, bookshelf, or table opened to a page? Also, the tab dividers would be more helpful to the harried caregiver needing quick reference if they included descriptive labels rather than the generic Chapter 1, 2, 3.
Each chapter in Robin Porter’s The Complete Caregiver’s Organizer begins with a quote that sets the tone followed by her vividly told story illustrating her advice for caregivers balanced with self-care tips. She offers checklists, worksheets, tips, questions to ask—all tools to help the caregiver apply the material. The topics do cover the breadth of caregiving from recognizing one is a caregiver (something we all have difficulty doing) while preserving independence as long as possible before exploring other living arrangements to nutrition and exercise and a chapter on “doctors, hospitals, & other facilities” and caregiver support.