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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Jimmy Carter, 98, opts for hospice care

Former President Jimmy Carter at his home in Plains, Ga., June 25, 2021. Carter, who at 98 is the longest living president in American history, has decided to forgo any further medical treatment and will enter hospice at his home in Georgia, the Carter Center announced on Saturday., Feb. 18, 2023.

By Peter Baker

Former President Jimmy Carter, who at 98 is the longest living president in American history, has decided to forgo further medical treatment and will enter hospice care at his home in Georgia, the Carter Center announced Saturday.

“After a series of short hospital stays, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention,” the center said in a statement posted on Twitter. “He has the full support of his family and his medical team. The Carter family asks for privacy during this time and is grateful for the concern shown by his many admirers.”

The center did not elaborate on what conditions had prompted the recent hospital visits or his decision to enter hospice care. Carter has survived a series of health crises in recent years, including a bout with the skin cancer melanoma, which spread to his liver and brain, as well as repeated falls.

Jason Carter, one of Carter’s grandchildren and chair of the Carter Center’s board of trustees, said he had seen the former president and first lady Friday.

“They are at peace and — as always — their home is full of love,” he wrote on Twitter.

Hospice is defined as care for terminally ill patients when the priority is not to provide further treatment but to reduce pain and discomfort toward the end of life. The former president lives with his wife, Rosalynn Carter, 95, in a modest ranch house that the couple built in Plains, Georgia, in 1961.

Jimmy Carter has defied illness and death for years, outlasting two presidents who followed him as well as his own vice president. He became the longest-living president in March 2019 when he passed former President George H.W. Bush, who died the previous November.

After Carter’s melanoma spread to his brain in 2015, he drew praise for announcing it publicly. Even as he underwent treatment, he continued to teach Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, as promised. Within months, he announced that he was cancer-free.

In 2019, Carter fell at least three times, at one point breaking a hip and at another requiring 14 stitches. Each time he bounced back, even showing up for a Habitat for Humanity homebuilding project shortly after one fall.

But he has slowly retreated from public life lately, making fewer and fewer appearances or statements. He could not attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, when former presidents traditionally convene, but Biden made a pilgrimage to Plains in April of that year to pay his respects, the first sitting president to visit Carter at his Georgia home.

In one of his last public acts, Carter filed a brief last year supporting an appeal by conservation groups seeking to overturn a court decision permitting a gravel road to be built through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. He argued that the construction would undercut the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which he had signed into law. He was said to be working on that issue as recently as last month.

“My name is Jimmy Carter,” he wrote in that brief. “In my lifetime, I have been a farmer, a naval officer, a Sunday school teacher, an outdoorsman, a democracy activist, a builder, governor of Georgia and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. And from 1977 to 1981, I had the privilege of serving as the 39th president of the United States.”

Carter was a political sensation in his day, a new-generation Democrat who after a single term as governor of Georgia shocked the political world by beating a host of better-known rivals to capture his party’s presidential nomination in 1976, then ousting the incumbent Republican president, Gerald Ford, in the fall.

Over the course of four years in office, he sought to restore trust in government following the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, ushering in reforms that were meant to transform politics. He negotiated the landmark Camp David Accords making peace between Israel and Egypt, an agreement that remains the foundation of Middle East relations.

But a sour economy and a 444-day hostage crisis in Iran in which 52 U.S. diplomats were held captive undercut his public support, and he lost his bid for reelection to former Gov. Ronald Reagan of California in 1980.

He spent his post-presidency, however, on a series of philanthropic causes, like building houses for the poor, combating Guinea worm in Africa, promoting human rights in places of repression, monitoring elections in far-flung countries and seeking to end conflicts in disparate parts of the globe. His work as a former president in many ways came to eclipse his time in the White House, eventually earning him the Nobel Peace Prize and rehabilitating his image in the eyes of many Americans.

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13. 9. 2023

Jimmy Carter's decision to opt for palliative care is a testament to his commitment to quality end-of-life care and his understanding of the importance of compassionate and comprehensive support for individuals facing serious illness. Palliative care, especially in the context of hospice, is vital in ensuring that individuals like Mr. Carter receive the best possible care during their final stages of life.

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