Jimmy Carter health update: Jason Carter says his grandfather is ‘doing OK’

Jimmy Carter’s grandson, Jason Carter, addressed the current state of his grandfather’s health during a speech at the 28th Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum Tuesday afternoon.

He thanked the Carter Center and the public for their unending support when his grandmother, former first lady Rosalynn Carter passed away in November.

“As you all have expected, I’m sure, my grandmother’s passing was a difficult moment for all of us, including my grandfather,” Jason Carter said. “This is, of course, the first of these forums since that day. But, the outpouring of love and support that we as a family received from the people in this room, and from the rest of the world, was so remarkable and meaningful to us, and it really turned that whole process into a celebration.”

Jason went on to say his grandfather was still hanging in there.

“My grandfather is doing OK,” Jason said. “He has been in hospice, as you know, for some, almost a year and a half now. And he really is, I think, coming to the end. As I’ve said before, there’s a part of this faith journey that is so important to him. And there’s a part of that faith journey that you only can live at the very end, and I think he has been there in that space.”

Jason said he had visited Jimmy a few weeks prior in Plains. As they watched the Braves game together, he said he told his grandfather that he wasn’t sure what to tell people when they ask how he’s doing.

“He said, ‘Well, I don’t know myself,'” Jason remembered, laughing. “Those moments for him in this last year reminded us, I think, of another of the really important aspects of my grandmother’s legacy, which is that of caregiving and the Rosalynn Carter Institute, both with respect to hospice care and otherwise.”

Jimmy Carter marks one year in hospice care

Former President Jimmy Carter entered home hospice care in Plains, Georgia at 98 years old. Now at 99, he remains the longest-lived American president. Experts on end-of-life care hope his endurance drives awareness and hope for others in the same boat.

Hospice is defined as care for terminally ill patients. According to the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, people enter hospice care if they are likely to have six months or less to live. The priority is not to provide further treatment, but to reduce pain and discomfort toward the end of life.

But, Jimmy Carter has proven himself to be a trooper. On Oct. 1, 2024, he’ll turn 100 years old.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter passes away

Seven months into home hospice care, Jimmy and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, made their first public appearance since the announcement. The two lovebirds were spotted taking part in the Peanut Festival in their hometown of Plains.

Two months later, the Carter Center announced Rosalynn had entered home hospice care herself. A week later, Carter attended her funeral at their home church, Maranatha Baptist Church.

Can someone be in hospice for years?

In 2021, the average stay of hospice patients who died was 92 days, MedPAC calculated. The median was 17 days — about two weeks longer than the time between when the Carters’ announced the former first lady had entered hospice and when she died.

About 10% of enrollees who die in hospice care stayed more than 264 days. Extended cases drive a majority of costs. In 2021, $13.6 billion of the overall $23 billion paid was for stays exceeding 180 days before death. Of that, $5 billion was for stays longer than a year.

Patients are sometimes discharged from hospice if their condition stabilizes, especially if they have reached the six-month mark in the program. In 2021, 17.2% of the patients were discharged. The MedPAC report to Congress noted that for-profit agencies have higher average length of stays than nonprofits and added that living patients’ discharge rates raise questions about admission standards.

Novas offered explanations. She said hospice has seen an uptick in patients with dementia, conditions in which “a patient can wax and wane for months or even years.” Another factor — one she said could explain Jimmy Carter’s endurance — is sheer grit.

“We cannot measure the human spirit,” she said. With many conditions, “somebody who wants to be here is going to stick around for a while.”

Leave a Reply

Verified by MonsterInsights