United Kingdom – While he has cared for thousands as an A&E Consultant, John Oakstone wasn’t prepared for the task of caring for his own parents when they reached their final years. It was a process of rapidly learning new skills, much trial-and-error, and increasing responsibility as time progressed.
In his new book, ‘Twilight Shepherd: A beginner’s guide to looking after your ageing parents’, Oakstone shares all that he learned along with vital insights on the process of parental elder care taken from his profession.
It’s a short but incredibly potent guide every adult child needs to read.
So your parents are getting older, say they are managing fine but phone you every day for help? Your brother says he lives too far away to do anything? They need to downsize but the house is full of junk? Trips to your parents with your young children are driving you crazy? John Oakstone combines his experience of looking after his two elderly parents in their last years with his day job as a doctor to produce a pithy but optimistic guide to looking after your parents in their final years.
1: Downhill reluctantly
2: Money matters
3: Working as a team
4: Help outside hospital, Formal and informal
5 : Interacting with Healthcare professionals
Appendix 1 Grades of Doctors, Nurses and Admin staff
6: Kids and elderly grandparents
7: Cognitive Impairment
8: Moving out of the family home
9: Nursing homes and Residential homes
10: Ceilings of treatment
Appendix 2 End of life care guidance example
11: The process of dying
12: Registering the death and arranging a funeral
“It will only take you an hour or two to read the book, but the information within can form a multi-year action plan that will not only reduce your own stress levels, but dramatically improve the quality of life for your parents,” explains the author. “It’s written for the busy person or sandwich carer, with each chapter sharing fast-action points you can put in place right away. At some time or another, you will likely need to care for your parents, so it’s vital you start getting informed.”
Continuing, “My position as an A&E Consultant allowed me to add a particularly useful chapter on how to navigate the NHS – from working with healthcare professionals to understanding and putting care plans into place. But there’s also lots of personal advice, as well, to ensure your parent or parent’s lives enjoy as much dignity, fun and autonomy as possible – for as long as possible.”
Reviews have been extremely positive. N. Cleary writes, “All the information no one ever tells you about caring for your parents and an honest account of this emotional time. This is a personal story but the author has recognised that few people are prepared for what is a common experience. Practical advice is delivered with humour and understanding and includes guidance on navigating hospital and social care. This should be recommended reading for all of who have or are experiencing this situation.”
A recent review on Instagram adds, “There is clear, honest yet sensitive information about planning care, ceilings of treatment, and how the process of dying actually unfolds. There are also some excellent tips on navigating the NHS on behalf of a confused and/or reluctant parent and effectively dealing with healthcare professionals. Most poignant, and perhaps most important, however, are the tips on staying sane, having a laugh in spite of it all, and making special memories in those final few years.”
‘Twilight Shepherd: A beginner’s guide to looking after your ageing parents’ is available now: https://amzn.to/2V2uV1Z.
About the Author:
John Oakstone is the pen name of an A&E Consultant working in the north of England. After an initial career in industry he went back to medical school, thinking he was going to be a GP. However, one shift in A&E and he was hooked, and several years later he returned to the A&E of his first job to become a Consultant. In his early 50s, when he was married with a young family, his parents started to need more help. With his two sisters he looked after his Mum and Dad to the end of their lives.
At work his two favourite things are organising the place so it works right, and being nice to people who are having a bad day. The pen name is to allow him to continue his work as a doctor.