Monday, April 2, 2012


Jennifer Jilks, retired teacher and educational writer, moved to Muskoka to care for her failing parents. Her intent: to write a book about teaching. Leaving behind friends, family and support systems, she was forced to retire early due to caregiver stress, depression and burn-out. Rather than the book about teaching, she participated in helping her parents navigate through end-of-life issues and wrote of her journey helping her parents die with dignity.

Her mother died at home from cancer, and her father from a brain tumour while in Long-Term Care. Part memoir, part research, the book includes coping strategies, and information discovered about the maze of Ontario Health Care options. Living and Dying With Dignity follows her parents’ journey, carefully explaining what happens after the diagnosis of cancer. Many have written success stories, but how do you cope when cancer or a brain tumour returns, when juggling as an adult child and a caregiver? What are your rights?

Author of many educational publications, and a school teacher from grades JK to 8, with workshop presentations ranging from Internet Safety, Web Design for Students, Integrating Technology for Exceptional Students, Jennifer has turned these skills towards adults.

Her work with the young has been transferred to working with older adults as a Peer Health Educator with the Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program, a Consultant with the Provincial Aging at Home Strategy, and a blogger:

The book’s first section is a memoir, which deals with the emotions of relocating, finding care and suitable supports for her parents. The second section is a research-based section with helpful advice. Since the senior generation are often reluctant to ask questions, and people often don’t know which ones to ask, this book includes information about your rights as a patient, i.e., treatment plans, discharge options, and questions to ask your oncologist. You have a right to know treatments, treatment symptoms, options, and quality of life issues. There are many barriers to getting health care in Canada.

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