Barbara Bush, the wife of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, aged 92, made the announcement of seeking “comfort care”. She declined taking treatment for her life-threatening condition. The announcement has stirred up debate on what does it mean to stop treatment for terminal illness.
Barbara has been under treatment for congestive heart failure and is also suffering from the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Her family made a public announcement that she will be focusing on comfort care and has decided not to opt for any further medical treatments.
The announcement has captured the attention of people and media as there is a national effort going on to define and document the wish of patients and to provide alternatives for patients before they will be given costly interventions for prolonging the life. Ellen Goodman, the co-founder of the Conversation Project that aims at making conversations with patients and their families to discuss and document the preferences on end-of-life praised the decision made by the Bush family. Goodman said that it is good to see that Barbara has made her last wishes known and the family is supporting her decision wholeheartedly.
Joanne Lynn, director of the program to improve elder care at Altarum Institute, said that at Barbara’s age and with failing health, the decision makes real sense. She added that there are few examples of people in leadership positions promoting palliative care.
Her decision will encourage many others to consider their choices.