The bucket list is defined as ‘‘a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying,’’ or more broadly as ‘‘a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.’’
The bucket list:
- is a concrete acknowledgment of our mortality and the transience of our lifespans.
- allows us to reflect on our personal values and identify important life milestones and experiences that we want to have before we die.
- is a sign of hope and future orientation.
A study to systematically investigate the concept of the bucket list concluded that it has the potential to engage patients about their health behaviors and health-related decision-making by using a framework that they can understand easily.
Six primary themes were identified in respondents' bucket lists.
According to prevalence, they are:
1. Desire to travel, within the nation or internationally.
2. Desire to accomplish a personal goal.
3. Desire to achieve specific life milestones.
4. Desire to spend quality time with friends and family.
5. Desire to achieve financial stability.
6. Desire to do a daring activity.
This study also shows that:
- adults and older adults from diverse backgrounds are able to articulate their bucket list.
- those who ascribe more importance to spirituality are more likely to have a bucket list.
- having a bucket list is an expression of hope and future orientation.
- age influences the bucket list, with younger patients expressing the desire to complete more courageous and risky activities.
Clinicians can elicit the patient's bucket list and use it as a starting point to initiate goals of care discussions and as a strategy to craft personalized care plans based on a patient's own life goals.
See reference for more information.
Adapted from Periyakoil Vyjeyanthi SP, Eric N, and Helena K. Common items on a bucket list. Journal of Palliative Medicine. February 2018. Internet. Available at https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2017.0512. Accessed on February 8, 2018.