Myth: Hospice just dopes people up until they die.

You want to spend your final months with family and friends, and you want to be alert enough to enjoy that time together. You are concerned that you will be given medication that will make you sleep all the time, causing you to miss out on those important moments.

The goal of hospice care is to control symptoms so patients can enjoy quality of life for as long as possible. While some medications do initially cause drowsiness, most patients become more alert as their bodies get used to them. As their condition changes, medications are adjusted to maintain optimal symptom control without sedation. However, the closer patients get to the end of life, the more weak and sleepy they become as a natural part of the dying process.

Hospice physicians and staff are very knowledgeable about medications and the effects they have on patients. They know families have questions about their use and are always willing discuss why they have been prescribed and if any changes would be beneficial.

Not everything you hear about hospice care is true.