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Former President Jimmy Carter is receiving hospice care. What does that mean?

Jimmy Carter Hospice Care
Posted at 11:36 AM, Feb 23, 2023

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — While hospice is for people who are at the end of their lives, it's not all about dying.

Hospice is often misunderstood.

Someone doesn't have to move to receive hospice care. The services are available at home, a nursing home or a hospice inpatient facility.

Dave Gerber is a chaplain and a bereavement specialist with AccentCare, a hospice organization. It is a brave decision to choose end-of-life services, he said.

"You have to make a decision that you're not going to go for curative care. If you have cancer, you're going to cease with chemotherapy or radiation. If you have kidney failure, you're not going for dialysis anymore," said Gerber.

Former President Jimmy Carter just started hospice care at home. That means the 98-year-old is stopping any more medical treatment. Someone qualifies for hospice care if their regular doctor thinks they only have six months or less to live.

"He kind of probably decided you know what, it's time for me to relax, and it's time for me to go on to whatever is next and that's a very strong statement as to what his values are," Gerber said.

Depending on the situation, hospice can involve things like doctors' services, pain relief, spiritual and grief counseling for the patient and family, art therapy or music therapy.

Medicaid and Medicare cover hospice care. Most private health insurances don't make you pay the full cost either.

Someone can continue to get hospice care after six months as long as a doctor confirms the person is still terminally ill.

This article was written by Hannah McDonald for Scripps News Nashville.