Jimmy Carter Enters Second Year On Hospice

As he celebrates his 99th birthday and continues to receive tributes to his legacy, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has been receiving hospice care at his home in south Georgia for the last year.

His wife, Rosalynn Carter, died in November, around six months after the Carter family announced that she had dementia. For those who are accepting their last stage of life without seeking a cure for a terminal disease, hospice care offers comfort as they pass.

A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, chaplains, and bereavement counselors, are available to each hospice patient. While home hospice does provide some in-home visits, it does not offer round-the-clock or permanent care. Medicare reimburses each hospice patient at a daily fee; there are four different levels of care, each with its charge. For $23.1 billion, 1.7 million Medicare enrollees participated in hospice in 2021.

There is more to hospital treatment than just giving patients enough morphine to get them through the last stages. Many patients choose to forego curative therapies and a plethora of medicines, including those for cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, those for maintaining their cholesterol and blood pressure, and even prescriptions to alleviate their acute symptoms. Depending on the circumstances, specific organizations may approve dialysis or medicines for those with advanced renal disease.

If patients’ health improves under hospice care, they may be eligible for release, especially after six months. The MedPAC report to Congress brought attention to the fact that, on average, patients remain longer at for-profit institutions than nonprofit ones. Concerns over the discharge rates of live patients were also voiced in the study. It might be an indication of dubious admission criteria.

The former president has, remarkably, done two 6-month stints- way above the average.

Hospice care is defined by Mollie Gurian, v.p. of Leading Age, a national network of more than 5,000 nonprofit elder-care groups, as offering all-encompassing support to those entering their latter stages of life without seeking a cure for a fatal disease. Hospice care does not mean giving up, even if it does include facing our death.