Thinking about hospice care? Here's where to start

Monique John Image
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
What is hospice care?
Former President Jimmy Carter's decision to enter home hospice care has put a renewed spotlight on these "special" people who help others at the end of life.

SOUTHERN PINES (WTVD) -- Tributes are pouring in for former President Jimmy Carter, who is now in home hospice care. Health providers say hospice care is about letting patients know they matter all through their lives' final moments.

"It takes a special person to work in this field, especially end of life," said Barbara Easterling, the nursing manager at Comfort Keepers Home Health Care in Southern Pines.

Easterling isn't a hospice nurse herself, but her agency frequently works in tandem with them to help clients:

"I think what brings people to this line of work are people who are caring. People who want to be sure that the end of life is productive."

READ MORE: What it means to enter hospice care as Jimmy Carter elects to stop medical treatment

Sending her thoughts and prayers to the 98-year-old Carter and his family, Easterling said families shouldn't be hesitant to ask for support from hospice:

"(H)aving someone in the home that has been through this before and knows how to care for these patients, I think that's, you know, imperative at this time," she said.

The U.S. Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Service said people enrolled in Medicare can receive hospice care if their doctor thinks they have fewer than six months to live.

If patients or loved ones think hospice care would be helpful, providers encourage them to talk to their doctor as soon as possible. Providers say too often, patients wait too long to begin hospice care-- preventing them from taking full advantage of the services.