How Will I Know it’s Time for Comfort Care?


What does it mean when a doctor says, Let’s talk about comfort care? Comfort care is about living the best quality of life in the last days, weeks, months of your life when treatments stop because they’re no longer effective. The terminal phase is defined by Medicare as a life expectancy of 6-months or less if the disease runs its natural course. 

A lot of physicians shy away from talking about comfort care because it’s, well, uncomfortable, and they’re trained to treat a disease, not the body, mind, and spirit of the person who has it. Unfortunately, a physician’s discomfort often deprives you and your family of the emotional, social, and spiritual support that elevates your quality of life. 

Comfort care is often used interchangeably with palliative care or hospice care. All three terms refer to care that improves a person’s quality of life by relieving suffering and providing practical, emotional, and spiritual support.

Hospice carefocuses on the pain, symptoms, and stress of a serious illness within the terminal phase, and enrollment requires a terminal diagnosis. Our Lady of Peace (OLP) provides hospice care wherever a person calls home; a home, apartment, assisted living community, skilled nurse facility, group home, etc. However, 24-hour hospice care is only provided in our residential hospice.  

If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, and you are no longer receiving treatments to cure your disease, comfort care can ease your pain, and improve your quality of life.