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When former U.S. president George H.W. Bush turned 90 years, he celebrated much the same way he did at ages 80 and 85: by skydiving.

Bush likely was fulfilling a dream, reaching a goal and, perhaps, crossing an item off his bucket list. The term bucket list has been around for a while but the official definition, according to the website, is a list of things a person wants to achieve or experience before reaching a certain age or “kicking the bucket.” Those dreams are as individual as each of us is.

When you or a loved one are planning your final years, don’t forget about the “bucket list” kinds of things that will give those years meaning and make your life song more beautiful. It’s never too soon to start making a bucket list and living out your dreams.

You may not be able to skydive, or deer hunt at age 104, like Virginian Clyde Roberts, but even those who are unable to leave their house can have a bucket list.

Here are some bucket list ideas and ways to make them happen for those who are not as mobile or active as they once were:

Reconnect with family and friends. Seniors who are alone or isolated for long periods may have lost touch with beloved family members or friends. Try to reconnect or, if you’re caring for someone who is unable to do so, you can help make that happen. Set up a Skype call, arrange a lunch at the house or assist them by sending email or handwritten letters or cards. If you want something to aid in ongoing meaningful conversation, try planning a remote book club. Agree on books you’ll read with friends or family, and then share your thoughts about the book by email or phone.

Experience an adventure. Just because you or your older loved ones can’t go to Paris doesn’t mean that experiencing the city and its magic is out of reach. Watch a YouTube video of Paris, Google pictures of the city, rent “Midnight in Paris” or check out one of these 10 films that will make you fall in love with Paris even if travel is out of the question.

Go back in time. Many people dream about reliving their youth. Why not plan a period party complete with clothes, music, games and food of a particular era. You could Google the era you want to feature and see what fun ideas pop up.

Fulfill a legacy. Leaving a legacy is a common dream. But a legacy doesn’t need to be monetary. In fact, some of the most meaningful inheritances are not. If a family member wants a treasured keepsake, such as a piece of jewelry, why not pass that along to them while you still can, along with the story about how you came to acquire this family memento. Writing the story will help ensure it survives the generations. If you have a hobby like knitting or cooking, think how meaningful it may be to teach grandchildren those skills so they can pass them down to their own descendants.

Learn – or adapt – a hobby. While hobbies may become more difficult as a result of the effects of aging, be flexible. When one active couple could no longer mountain hike or downhill ski, they took up square dancing at age 75. Think about ways to adapt what you’ve always loved to do. If outdoor biking is no longer an option, a few minutes a day on a stationary bike while watching a video or listening to music might be a suitable adaptation. If baking is not possible, tune into one of the many shows that feature professional bakers. Or invite a family member or friend over to help bake a favorite recipe. Home Instead CAREGiversSM provide assistance in the kitchen, and some have helped older adults chronicle important moments in their lives in photos or a scrapbook.

Discover how a Home Instead CAREGiver could help bring bucket list dreams to life. Find an office near you.

Additional Resources:

Spirituality Helps Some Traverse the Final Years Journey
What it Means to Live Well to the End
Compose Your Life Song Music Generator

Last revised: February 23, 2018

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