How Jimmy Carter Is Changing the Conversation Surrounding Hospice Care

May 27, 2024
Hospice care in Georgia, Hospice care

As former President Jimmy Carter passes the one-year mark in hospice care, his very public stay is changing the way people think about this often misunderstood yet highly beneficial service. His family said that he continued to enjoy ice cream and vote while in hospice care. By shedding light on its importance and what hospice is really like, people can better understand its benefits and essential role in end-of-life treatment.

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is a term used to describe a caregiving approach that focuses on providing a patient with a higher quality of life while managing symptoms associated with serious, complex and terminal illness. Instead of focusing on aggressive medical interventions aimed at extending life, caregivers provide specialized care to increase the physical comfort of their patients while providing emotional, social and spiritual support

Hospice care is an option for those with an incurable medical condition with a remaining life expectancy of less than six months. These conditions include advanced dementia, end-stage cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure. As in the case of Jimmy Carter, patients can still receive hospice care after six months — but they must requalify. 

Hospice care is available in various settings. Although many people prefer to receive care in the comfort of home, it is also available in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice facilities. 

The Misconceptions of Hospice 

While there are many benefits associated with hospice care, approximately half of those who qualify for services never receive them or receive help too late. Several misconceptions surrounding hospice care are common reasons for people to decline it. 

For example, one common misconception is that once you enter hospice care, you are essentially "giving up." Hospice care is a highly specialized field of medical care provided for patients in the last stages of their illness to help them enjoy their remaining days as comfortably and thoroughly as possible. 

Many times, aggressive treatments for incurable conditions come with substantial side effects. While these treatments are appropriate for those who are younger or likely to get well, they may not benefit older patients with an incurable disease. One of the goals of hospice care is to provide the patient with the highest quality of life possible so they can maintain their dignity during their final days while spending meaningful time with loved ones. 

Another common belief is that once you enter hospice care, you can no longer receive any form of medical treatment. Patients receive pain management and medications to alleviate their symptoms. Additionally, they or their families can request to leave hospice care at any time and resume treatment for their condition.

Some people falsely believe that hospice care is only for those with a few days to live. However, many people receive care for months before nearing the end of life. And, some people, as is the case with Jimmy Carter, can spend a year in hospice. During their final days, hospice clients greatly benefit from pain and symptom management, as well as compassionate support from hospice staff. 

By addressing these misconceptions and entering hospice earlier, people can experience the full benefits of care and spend more time with their family and friends. 

Benefits of Hospice Care 

Hospice care in Georgia, Hospice care

Although modern medicine treats disease as curable, this is not always possible. Some people prefer to discontinue treatments that cause significant symptoms or pain when their chances of remission are slim. At this point, when there is limited time left to live, some patients choose to focus on alleviating their symptoms and prioritizing quality time with loved ones. Hospice care can help them achieve these goals. 

With hospice care, patients can spend their final days in the comfort of home rather than at the hospital. That’s one reason why Jimmy Carter chose hospice — to spend his remaining time at home with his family. Hospice clients receive optimal pain management while maintaining their dignity and enhancing their quality of life. 

Hospice care also provides several benefits for the family. Anticipatory grief is common for those coming to terms with their loved one's terminal illness. Emotional and spiritual support in the form of grief counseling is available for families and patients so they can find peace at the end of life. 

Family caregivers also receive much-needed respite, as they get a break from the stress of caregiving while the hospice staff takes over care. By choosing hospice, patients experience better pain control and a higher satisfaction rate compared to those not receiving services.

Families often worry about paying for hospice care. But, Medicare and most private insurance providers cover hospice services, which means it is often less expensive than traditional hospital care. 

Final Thoughts 

Former President Jimmy Carter's experience in hospice has brought to light the importance of this very beneficial, specialized type of care. 

At Transitions Hospice Care, our goal is to help your family make each moment count with compassionate care and specialized support. Are you interested in learning more about hospice care in Georgia or South Carolina? Contact us today.