By Cassie Mitchell, President and CEO of HopeWest

When it comes to hospice care, timing is everything. It’s a difficult topic to discuss, but an essential one.

Yet, many people wait until the last stages of their illness to learn about their hospice options, missing out on the significant benefits it offers. All too often, we at HopeWest hear, “I wish we’d have called you sooner.”

Hospice care, for those not familiar, is a compassionate approach to end-of-life, provided to individuals with serious illnesses. It focuses on the treatment of symptoms, rather than providing a cure. This aims to enhance one’s quality of life by managing pain, offering emotional and spiritual guidance, and ensuring the patient’s comfort.

Hospice teams consist of doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, counselors, and volunteers who work together to provide comprehensive care and support to both the patient and their loved ones during this challenging time.

Nearly four months ago, we learned, as a nation, that former President Jimmy Carter made the decision to enroll in hospice care, declining further treatments in favor of time spent at home with his loved ones. President Carter has been an inspirational figure for decades, and his choice to enter hospice serves as a poignant reminder of the life-changing benefits to early enrollment.

It’s important to remember that hospice care is not limited to the final days or weeks of life. Many people are surprised to learn that hospice care can be provided for six months or more, depending on the individual’s prognosis.

By enrolling early, patients can fully access the array of services available, including proactive symptom and pain management, counseling, spiritual support, and bereavement support for families.

Most importantly, peace of mind and support are given through each step of the journey thanks to highly skilled, compassionate professionals dedicated to each patient’s goals and wishes.

President Carter’s decision is a testament to his foresight and courage. By enrolling in hospice care early, he has taken control of his healthcare journey and set an essential example for others. It’s important to recognize that hospice care is not about giving up, but rather about choosing a path focused on quality of life. It allows individuals to spend precious time with their loved ones and create lasting memories.

Another crucial benefit of early enrollment to hospice care is the emotional and psychological support provided to patients and their families. Hospice care focuses on holistic well-being, addressing the emotional and spiritual aspects of the journey alongside the physical.

This comprehensive approach helps patients, and their loved ones navigate the complex emotions that arise during this time, providing comfort and guidance.

President Carter’s decision to enroll in hospice care is a reminder that this choice is a brave and empowering one. It allows individuals to reclaim control over their healthcare journey and prioritize their well-being. Early enrollment in hospice care ensures that patients receive the support they need, when they need it the most.

At HopeWest, we encourage individuals and their families to have conversations about hospice care early and often. It’s a proactive step that can make a significant difference in quality of life for everyone involved. Let’s follow President Carter’s lead and embrace the benefits of early enrollment in hospice care. Together, we can create a society where compassion, dignity, and comfort are at the forefront of end-of-life care.

By Cassie Mitchell, President and CEO of HopeWest