21 February 2023
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's family recently announced that he is receiving special care and is preparing for the end of his life.
Carter is under hospice care. Hospice care means the former president is being looked after so he can live his remaining days comfortably. But he will not seek medical treatment to extend his life. In some cases, people under hospice care receive drugs so they can live their final days without pain.
Carter is 98 years old. He has lived longer than any president in American history.
Carter won his election in 1976 and took office in 1977. He lost the next election, however, in 1980 to President Ronald Reagan.
After his term in office, Carter continued to work in public and for charitable causes. In 1982, he started the Carter Center, which supports democracy, public health and human rights. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He also worked often with the charity organization Habitat for Humanity. The group, which was started by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976, helps build homes for people who need a place to live.
VOA spoke with Suzanne Taylor of Buffalo, New York, who gave her time to Habitat for Humanity and worked with Carter. She helped build homes from 2006 to 2019.
Taylor said she cried when she heard the news that Carter was preparing for the end of his life.
"So many people really appreciate him," she said.
Jonathan Alter wrote a book about Carter called His Very Best. Alter said he "led such an epic American life."
When talking about Carter, both as a politician and being married to his wife Rosalynn for almost 77 years, Alter said: "He won at life."
Alter went on to say that Carter was born in a hospital, but he does not want to die in one. Instead, he will live his final days in the home he and his wife built in the small town of Plains, Georgia. After living a long life, Carter aims to die in the same place where he was born.
"I think it is fitting," Alter said, "that Jimmy Carter is ending his journey on his own terms."
Carter lost the 1980 presidential election but kept working in public. Alter said Carter's popularity today is based on what he did after he was president. That included working to end diseases in poor countries through the Carter Center, his work with Habitat for Humanity and as an "elder statesman" in world and American politics.
"Historians...need to look at how a president changed the world, changed people's lives...and that takes longer and is not really directly connected to his popularity as president," Alter said.
Carter also wrote a number of books and traveled the U.S. speaking about them.
During a church service recently, Carter's niece, Kim Fuller, talked about her uncle. She said: "maybe it is time to pass the baton," when speaking about the former president. "Who will pick it up, I have no clue," she added.
A baton is a short stick passed between runners in a race.
Taylor, the Habitat for Humanity volunteer, discussed a reason why Carter will be missed. She said people feel more connected to him than to other former presidents.
"I think his accessibility has created a bond with a lot of Americans that most presidents don't have," she said.
I'm Dan Friedell.
Kane Farabaugh wrote this story for VOA. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English.
Words in This Story
charitable –adj. done to help the poor, sick and those who need help
appreciate –v. to understand the value of a person, to be thankful for something or someone
epic –adj. something long that tells of exciting events or adventures
journey –n. a long trip
elder statesman –n. a retired government leader who gives advice to current leaders
accessibility –n. the quality of being easy to speak with or understand
bond –n. a connection that is shared between people