At age 98, Jimmy Carter is the longest-living U.S. president in history. In recent years especially, Jimmy Carter’s health has made headlines, and his grandson Josh Carter recently shared an update on how he’s doing after entering hospice care earlier this year.
Jimmy Carter is the first president to live until 95 or older and the only one to live to see the 40th anniversary of his inauguration. Here’s what to know about Jimmy Carter’s health history.
Jimmy Carter today is living at home in hospice care with his wife, Rosalynn Carter, who was recently diagnosed with dementia. He’s in “the final chapter” of his life, but “he’s still fully Jimmy Carter,” Josh Carter told People. “He’s just tired. I mean he’s almost 99 years old, but he fully understands (how many well wishes he’s received) and has felt the love.”
Josh Carter added that there’s always someone at his grandparents’ home, usually one of their four kids: Amy Carter, 55, Jack Carter, 75, James Carter, 72, and Donnel Carter, 70. Recently, visitors to the home have only been caregivers and family, Josh Carter said.
Rosalynn Carter is also navigating her dementia well, he said. “She still knows who we are, for the most part — that we are family. … My grandmother is still able to form new memories.”
A few months after his 98th birthday, in February 2023, Jimmy Carter announced through his foundation, the Carter Center, that he’d be stopping medical intervention and only receiving hospice care. The news came after he’d survived a series of hospital stays.
Over the past several years, Jimmy Carter has survived cancer and multiple falls, among other illnesses.
In August 2015, Jimmy Carter underwent surgery to remove a small mass from his liver. At the time, the Carter Center called the procedure “elective “and said he’d make a full recovery.
Soon after, it was revealed that the mass on Jimmy Carter’s liver was metastatic melanoma, and later on in August 2015, it was announced that Jimmy Carter’s melanoma had spread to his brain, and he was preparing to undergo radiation treatment.
But by December 2015, he seemed to be cancer free. An MRI scan on Jimmy Carter’s brain at the time did not show “any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones,” according to a Carter Center statement. Afterward, he continued to receive immunotherapy treatments
Jimmy Carter has a family history with cancer. His father, brother and both of his sisters died of pancreatic cancer. His mother was also diagnosed with it, NBC News reported.
A few years later, during a 2019 church service, Jimmy Carter reflected on his cancer scare and the possibility he was going to die. He said he was “absolutely and completely at ease with death.”
“I assumed, naturally, that I was going to die very quickly,” he said. “I obviously prayed about it. I didn’t ask God to let me live, but I asked God to give me a proper attitude toward death, and I found that I was absolutely and completely at ease with death.”
In May 2019, Jimmy Carter fell at his Georgia home and broke his hip. Shortly afterward, he underwent surgery.
The injury occurred when he was getting ready to leave for a turkey hunting trip. The Carter Center shared a statement with NBC News at the time, proving that he was in good spirits.
“President Carter said his main concern is that turkey season ends this week, and he has not reached his limit,” the statement read. “He hopes the State of Georgia will allow him to rollover the unused limit to next year.”
In October 2019, Jimmy Carter fell again and needed 14 stitches in his forehead. Despite the injury and a black eye, he still traveled to Nashville to speak at a Habitat for Humanity event.
“I fell down and hit my forehead on a sharp edge and had to go to the hospital,” he told the audience. “But I had a No. 1 one priority, and that was to come to Nashville and build houses.”That same month, Jimmy Carter suffered a fractured pelvis from another fall at home. The Carter Center said in a statement at the time: “He has been admitted to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center for observation and treatment of a minor pelvic fracture. He is in good spirits and is looking forward to recovering at home.”
In November 2019, Jimmy Carter spent two weeks in the hospital in recovering from a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain caused by bleeding from several falls. Following the surgery, the Carter Center revealed that there were “no complications.”
As Jimmy Carter prepared to celebrate his 98th birthday in October 2022, his grandson Jason Carter shared some thoughts about the former president’s life.
“He is looking at his 98th birthday with faith in God’s plan for him,” he told the Associated Press. “That’s just a beautiful blessing for all of us to know, personally, that he is at peace and happy with where he has been and where he’s going.”
Jason Carter described his grandfather as still being “100% with it” but acknowledged that “daily life things are a lot harder now.”
In February 2023, the Carter Center revealed that Jimmy Carter would soon commence in-home hospice care.
“After a series of short hospital stays, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter today decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention,” the statement read. “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 share any details about his hospitalizations at the time.
Chrissy Callahan covers a range of topics for TODAY.com, including fashion, beauty, pop culture and food. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, watching bad reality TV and consuming copious amounts of cookie dough.
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