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The Term 'Comfort Care' Changing How We View End Of Life

Days before former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away, her spokesman made the announcement she would no longer seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care."

We wanted to learn more about that term, "comfort care."

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to hospice care.

"We neither hasten nor delay the person’s natural death," said  Rachel Behrendt, with Hospice of the Valley.

Behrendt said palliative care and hospice care are two different things. Palliative care helps manage symptoms and improve quality of life — and you don’t have to be dying to receive it. For patients who forgo curative care, that’s where hospice comes in.

Behrendt said the use of the term comfort care is an important one.

"People are uncomfortable talking about hospice and palliative care and comfort care has come up as a term that is used much more freely and with more acceptance, and so I think that indicates a shift in the general thinking across the country," she said.

The 92-year-old former first lady had been in the hospital recently for congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

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Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.