A Bucket List Can Facilitate End-of-Life Talks

Now that travel, galleries, live theater, and restaurants are once again on the itinerary, many people are chipping away at their “bucket list”.  Although the concept might seem a bit morbid – checking off life’s must-do adventures before “kicking the bucket”, creating a goals list can help people of all ages to accomplish things they have always wanted to do. 

A bucket list may change and evolve during a lifetime, along with age and ability.  But sharing a life wish list can also be a gentler way to open the discussion with loved ones about end-of-life plans.  According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal Blog post, creating a list of things that are important to you can help people uncover their priorities and give meaning and direction to life. 

Whatever you call it, a life list can be a framework to set goals and normalize discussions about health and mortality.  While younger people may say they want to participate in riskier adventures like sky diving, or mountain climbing, older adults may be more likely to express interest in accomplishing things that will leave a legacy or create shared memories. 

According to recent studies, about 90 percent of Americans said they have a list of things they want to achieve before they die, but only 20 percent of Britons said they had a “bucket list”.   Some of the most common items on such a list include travel, achieving a personal goal, reaching life milestones, spending quality time with friends and family, achieving financial stability, and participating in an unconventional activity. 

Older adults may want to talk with their healthcare provider about their life wishes to determine what might be possible and how best to facilitate at least some of the items on the list.  If for example you always wanted to hike the Inca Trail, your doctor may have some advice to help prepare you for the trip if you are physically able. 

Need some inspiration to get started on your bucket list?  Visit the Good Trust website for 101 unique ideas and steps to help get your affairs in order.