In April, America gained insight into the health battle that former first lady Barbara Bush had been fighting. In her final years, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), both of which cannot be cured and require consistent medical treatment. On Sunday, April 15, the Bush family announced that she had decided “not to seek additional medical treatment and will focus on comfort care.” Sadly, Barbara Bush passed away two days later on April 17 with her husband by her side.
Barbara Bush’s announcement sparked debate over the decision to end medical treatment for a terminal illness. At Santé, we understand that each individual’s needs are different. It’s nearly impossible to categorize a type of treatment as right or wrong, because what’s right for one patient might not be right for another. For anyone wondering if comfort care might be right for them, there are many benefits for those fighting a terminal illness.
What is comfort care?
The “comfort” part of comfort care should go without saying, but can often be a difficult conversation for family members to have. Those closest to the patient can be resistant to ending medical treatment because in their eyes, having their loved one alive is what’s comforting to them. But comfort can mean many different things to someone who is terminally ill. A patient may choose to stop receiving a medication that comes with a slew of potential side effects. Or they may choose to simply be in the presence of family as they come to terms with approaching the end of life.
Why would someone choose comfort care?
It’s possible that a disease could worsen to the point where medications are no longer working and other treatments are no longer an option. In this situation, it’s not uncommon for someone nearing the end of life to place tremendous importance on their final days or weeks. This is by no means “giving in” or “giving up,” as is commonly assumed. For most, comfort care is about being surrounded by love and comfort.
Who makes the decision to receive comfort care?
When the decision to receive comfort care is made, it involves a team of people. When a terminally ill patient is undergoing treatment, their care team usually includes a number of different doctors, nurses, caregivers and medical directors. Family members are also involved. All of these people will provide their professional insight and guidance in order to help a patient and their family make an informed decision.
Where does a patient receive comfort care?
A patient can transition to comfort care at a hospital, at home or at a care center like Santé. There are many advantages of transitioning to a center like Santé. The compassionate and dedicated team at Santé offers an interdisciplinary approach to address the treatment of mind, body, and soul.
The Santé hospice team provides a comprehensive and compassionate range of services, including end of life care. If you’re interested in learning more about comfort care or visiting one of our care centers, call us at (480) 563-2402.