Barbara Bush’s Comfort Care Decision at End of Life – Rest in Peace


At the end of life, families are often faced with decisions about whether to continue to treat health conditions facing a loved one or whether to simply provide comfort care. Would you give chemotherapy for cancer to a 90 + year old who is suffering from cardiac failure?  There are often no right or wrong answers to these questions, as they are very personal decisions.

Recently, Barbara Bush’s failing health was broadcast throughout the American media.  The former First Lady and mother of another President died yesterday. By all accounts, her death was peaceful and she was well aware of the loving family that surrounded her. Prior to her death, Mrs. Bush made the decision to shift her health decisions from treatment to comfort care. She then left the hospital and was cared for at her family home until her death.

When faced with a terminal condition, many people choose to sign a POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). POLSTs are similar in purpose, but often more robust than the historically more familiar DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form, and also require a physician’s signature. It is unclear whether the former First Lady signed the POLST herself or whether her agent under Power of Attorney for Health Care actually signed it. The considerations that go into signing a POLST include the knowledge that the person whose life is on the line has a terminal medical condition, there is no hope for meaningful recovery, and treatment will only delay the dying process.

Absent your own capacity, who would you trust the most among your family and friends to make such a decision? A Health Care Power of Attorney allows YOU to choose. Incapacity is not a calendar item. An unexpected and devastating event can put you or a loved one in a mess (family conflict, guilt, legal battles…) that compounds the sadness and difficulties surrounding the medical situation.

If you have not taken action to select a healthcare agent and execute a Power of Attorney for Health Care, we encourage you to do so now.  Call Matlin Law Group, P.C at 1-847-770-6600 or visit our website at


Article by:

Eric Matlin

Eric G. Matlin



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