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Make a Bucket List -- Then Share It With Your Doc

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Feb 9th 2018

new article illustration

FRIDAY, Feb. 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Do you have things you want to do before your time's up?

If so, consider sharing that so-called "bucket list" with your doctors.

Those discussions could help your doctors provide health care that fits your life plans, researchers say. And for people with a chronic or even terminal illness, it could also help with advance planning.

A survey of more than 3,000 people across the United States found that 91 percent had made a bucket list. The older the respondents, the more likely they were to have such a list.

Bucket lists had six major themes, according to the Stanford University School of Medicine researchers who conducted the survey:

  • Travel (listed by 79 percent),
  • A personal goal, such as running a marathon (78 percent),
  • Achieving a lifetime milestone, such as a 50th wedding anniversary (51 percent),
  • Achieving financial stability (24 percent),
  • Spending quality time with family and friends (16.7 percent),
  • Doing a daring activity (15 percent).

If doctors know what's on their patients' bucket lists, it helps them provide personalized care and encourages patients to follow healthy lifestyles, said lead author Dr. V.J. Periyakoil, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford.

She's a geriatrics and palliative care expert who says she routinely asks her patients if they have a bucket list.

"Telling a patient not to eat sugar because it's bad for them doesn't work nearly as well as saying, for example, if you are careful now, you will be able to splurge on a slice of wedding cake in a few months when your son gets married," Periyakoil said in a university news release.

A bucket list "provides a very nice framework for thinking about your life goals, health and your mortality," she said.

It also can be an important part of advance care planning for people with chronic or terminal illnesses, Periyakoil added. Such conversations can be difficult, she said, but a bucket list offers a way to broach the topic.

"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 authors wrote.

Having a bucket list helps doctors help their patients "plan ahead for what matters most in their lives," Periyakoil said.

The survey results were published Feb. 8 in the Journal of Palliative Medicine.

More information

The American Hospice Association has information on advance care planning.