What is hospice care? | The Fox News

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Rosalynn Carter, who is 96, announced Friday that she has entered hospice care at her home in Georgia.

The first lady and former President Jimmy Carter, 99, are now spending time with each other and their family while the two are in hospital care together.

The president, back in February, entered hospice care at his home instead of seeking additional medical attention after a series of brief hospital stays, according to a statement from the Carter Center.


What is hospice care – and what does this mean for the Carters and anyone else who has embarked on this type of care?

“Hospice is health care for the dying,” said Dr. Harold Braswell, associate professor of Health Care Ethics at St. Louis University and author of several books on end-of-life issues. life, to Fox News Digital via email on Friday.

A person qualifies for hospitalization, he said, after being diagnosed with a condition with a prognosis of “six months or less to live.”

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

First Lady Rosalynn Carter, 96, pictured here in 2019, announced on Friday, November 17, that she has entered hospice care at home. She and her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, are in hospice care together now at their home in Georgia. (AP Photos)

“This care is interdisciplinary, and includes medical, psychosocial and spiritual elements, as well as some assistance with activities of daily living,” Braswell said.

Unlike a hospital setting, where doctors work to cure disease or illness and prolong someone’s life, hospice care tries to manage the symptoms, such as pain, and help patients as their lives come to an end. end


“Hospice is not curative care,” Braswell said. “It is not aimed at curing a patient’s medical condition—and, in fact, qualifying for hospice usually requires a patient to forego curative interventions such as chemotherapy.”

Additionally, hospice care does not intentionally cause or hasten a patient’s death, and typically does not include 24/7 care, according to the Hospice Foundation of America website .

Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter are pictured on a train in Alexandria, Egypt, on a trip to the Middle East, on March 9, 1979. (Jimmy Carter Library)

In the United States, most hospital care is provided in an outpatient setting, Braswell told Fox News Digital.

This could be in a person’s home, as the Carters do, or in a nursing home or long-term care facility.

A few weeks “is too short a time for hospice to get the most benefit,” an expert said.

“Some hospitals – a relatively small number – offer inpatient care, although this is only for a very short time, generally for people who are actively dying,” Braswell said.

There are four levels of hospice care, according to the WebMD website.

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Two of these stages take place at home.

“Standard home care,” the most common type of hospice care, includes nursing and home health aides.

The next level, “continuing home care,” involves the regular presence of a nurse or medical professional, WebMD said.

A woman receiving food from a nurse

“Continuing home care” includes the regular presence of a nurse or medical professional. (iStock)

Both “general inpatient care” and “respite care” include the patient’s stay at a hospice facility.

With respite care, a patient goes to a care facility to give their caregivers temporary respite.

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A person may consider starting hospice care after experiencing “significant decline in physical and/or mental status despite medical treatment,” according to the Hospice Foundation of America, or if the person is not seeing results from “the often physically debilitating cures” for illness.

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The start of hospice care does not mean that the patient is only days, or even weeks, away from death, experts say.

It is very beneficial for the patient and the family to start hospice care as early as possible, but that does not always happen.

a person with a cane assisted by a medical professional

The start of hospice care does not mean that the patient is only days, or even weeks, away from death, according to experts. (iStock)

Because hospice care requires a person to stop curative care, many terminally ill patients do not choose to start it until just a few weeks before they die.

“This has created a problem because many people do not provide these services until they go [far] too late,” Braswell said.

A few weeks “is too short for the hospice to get the most benefit,” he said.

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Rosalyn Carter was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year.

Her family has asked for privacy at this time.

Fox News Digital’s Greg Wehner contributed to the report.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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