LETTER TO THE EDITOR: President Carter sparks discussion on hospice care

A few months ago, former President Jimmy Carter entered hospice care at his home in Georgia.

That began a nation-wide conversation about hospice. It’s been a few months now and many people wonder if that’s a typical hospice experience.

For hospice professionals, it is not surprising that President Carter is still alive; however, we realize that the timing of hospice and the care provided is often misunderstood.

Although people enter hospice care at the end of their life, it does not predict how long that life will be.

Patients enter hospice care when a provider estimates that they have a life expectancy of six months or less with no curative measures.

So, it is not unusual for us to care for patients for several months. In fact, early hospice referral offers many benefits to patients and their families. Some of these benefits include 24/7 access to nurses; medical equipment; comfort medications; assistance with personal care; emotional and spiritual support; and volunteer companionship.

With early hospice referral, the patient and their family have time to take advantage of all these benefits. Studies have shown that those who receive hospice care earlier often live longer and report improved quality of life because their care is focused on comfort.

According to a 2021 report by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, hospice patients experience more comfort and less stress. This is due to reduced trips to the hospital or emergency room, support for caregivers, reduced pain for patients and emotional and spiritual support.

The hospice philosophy is driven by the patient and their wishes. Most patients opt to be at home with their family during the last stage of their life.

President Carter’s grandson alluded to this when he said that his grandparents were limiting their visitors to family and staying together at home.

The thoughts and prayers of the nation are certainly with President Carter and his entire family right now. Hospice of Stanly also thanks this community for their support as we provide palliative and hospice care to patients and families.

Lori Thayer,
chief executive officer
Hospice of Stanly
HospiceofStanly.org