Talk to your doctor about your Bucket List

What is a Bucket List

A  bucket list is typically ‘‘a list of things that you have not done before, but want to do before dying.” 

To make a bucket list is to live a life with hope and aspirations. It allows you to reflect on what matters most to you and identify important experiences or milestones that you want to have in your lifetime. 

What is the symbolic meaning of a bucket list?

A bucket list is symbolic of our mortality.  It is also creates a focus on future orientation, and acts as a sign of hope.   

Common Themes on a Bucket List?

Stanford University conducted research on three thousand and fifty six people.  Findings indicated that  91 percent  had made a bucket list. And, highly spiritual people were most likely to have a bucket list.

Stanford’s analysis revealed   six common themes:

#1. Desire to travel (78.5% of participants)

#2. Desire to accomplish a personal goal (78.3%)

#3. Desire to achieve specific life milestones (51%)

#4. Desire to spend quality time with friends and family (16.7%)

#5. Desire to achieve financial stability (16.1%)

#6. Desire to do a daring activity (15%)

Can you change the items on your bucket list?

Yes, you can.  A bucket list is not a static list, but rather it represents a snapshot in time.  As you live your life, you will notice that your goals and  aspirations change. The meaning of your life might even change.

The goals you had in your teenage years might be rekindled or they may be vastly different from your current thoughts.  In general, an older person may be a more risk averse version of their teenage self, opting more for travel and spending time with loved ones.

Discussing your Bucket List with your Doctor?

According to Stanford University “Your bucket list can serve as a roadmap and help your doctor provide personalized care.

If you are a person with a chronic illness like cancer, discuss your bucket list with your doctor. Ask your doctor what you need to know about your health and illnesses and if they will prevent you from reaching your goals.”

For physicians, asking patients about their bucket lists, or whether they have one, can encourage discussion about making their medical care fit their life plans, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

For doctors, knowing their patients’ bucket lists is a great way to provide personalized care and get them to adopt healthy behaviors, said VJ Periyakoil, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine, who said that she routinely asks her patients if they have a bucket list.

Past research has found that when doctors talk to patients — especially those with chronic or terminal illnesses — about the patients’ goals for future care.

“If a patient wants to attend a beloved grandchild’s wedding or travel to a favored destination, treatments that could potentially prevent her from doing so should not be instituted without ensuring her understanding of the life impact of such treatments,” the study said.

Discussing a patient’s bucket list is just a good way to start these conversations,“It’s important for physicians to talk to patients and find out what actually motivates them,” she said. She encourages both doctors and patients to bring up the topic of a bucket list. By discussing how a treatment or surgery might affect the patient’s life, and then discussing what the patient’s goals are, the best possible care plan can be laid out, she said.



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