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Carter puts hospice care in national conversation

The president's decision to enter hospice leaves some asking about the differences in end-of-life care.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — As our 39th president, Jimmy Carter, enters hospice care, he now puts the concept into the national discourse. For those who may not know what the option entails, and how it may differ from other kinds of end-of-life care, we spoke with Angela Davis with Hospice Family Care for insight.

"I hear so many times, you know, 'We work so hard to have a good life and to live every day to the fullest,'" Davis said. "And we should also do that at the end of life."

It is a part of the human condition that can be frightening for some. Davis said it's a question of viewpoint.

"The beauty of hospice is the journey," she said. "Helping them to see, to be intentional, to bring all the family, see those old friends."

As Davis explained, hospice is a type of healthcare that focuses on the relief of a terminally-ill patient. It provides comfort and the end stages of life.

"Technically you have to have a 'life-limiting illness' to qualify for hospice," said Davis. "Many people feel like that it's at the last few weeks of life, but it really isn't."

There are two types of hospice care: inpatient and routine home care.

"This facility [HFC] is actually an inpatient hospice facility," Davis said. "When patients come in here, it typically means that they have a symptom that can't be managed well in the home."

"The other level of care, which is the majority of all hospice patients, is what's called routine home care," she continued. "And that means the patient qualifies for hospice and that they can be managed well in the home."

Regardless of location, the main priority of hospice care is ensuring the patient is comfortable.

"Let's get you in a space that's quiet and calm, that can give you rest for your spirit," said Davis. "Not just for the patient, but for the family. Because hospice is very emotional. Most of the time, it's the hardest thing that people make the decision to say, 'You know, I think it's time.'" 

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