What can Jimmy Carter teach us about Hospice?

Hospice Care
September 8, 2023

Like many of you, I recently read in the New York Times that former US President, Jimmy Carter, at age 98 has been home with hospice care for over 6 months, and from all accounts, it’s been beautiful and a blessing.

What has it meant for Jimmy Carter the patient? It has meant more time with loved ones. More time to recount the stories of his life. More time to feel the caress and touch of a friend. More comfort being around the things he loves and surrounded by the people he loves. It’s meant more living.

What has it all meant to Jimmy’s wife? Roselyn Carter appears to have dementia and is being cared for at home while Jimmy is on hospice. What a gift hospice has provided to keep this couple together while they receive the care they deserve in their place of choice.

What has it all meant to the Carter family, kids, grandkids, friends, and well-wishers? It’s meant a chance to reconnect, say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done, settle old petty grievances, and appreciate all that a person has done to impact the lives of others.

So what can we learn from Jimmy Carter about hospice? We can learn that when diagnosed with a life-limiting condition there is an alternative path rather than heroic, high-cost end-of-life procedures. This other path is open to us all and it leads to comfort and connection. And mostly it leads to fully being alive and living at the end of life. That’s an example we could all learn from.