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Elder Living: What Jack and Morgan Can Teach You

By , 1:05 am on

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman played cancer patients who escaped their treatment ward and pursued their dreams in the 2007 movie, “The Bucket List.”  Did you see it? I never thought about having to escape my life to pursue my dreams.  The future looked like a distant place that I’d reach someday, after I finished raising my two daughters and doing whatever else came up.

Working with seniors as I do, has been a gift of perspective, among many gifts. Some have lived extra-ordinary lives in the true sense of the term—traveled the world, worked dangerous jobs, and ate things few Americans would consider food.  Others have experienced “ordinary” lives, which were equally rich for the families they nurtured, communities they served and legacies of faith and love they’ll leave.  I want to be like the seniors who look back on lives of meaning, when I grow up.

Common among the satisfied seniors was a strong sense of direction at various times in their lives.  I often write about purpose and its importance in the later years of life.  It is, of course, equally important while one is younger.  No matter where you, your children, or your grandchildren (if they exist) are on your journeys, consider what is your purpose and plan—your dreams. Create your own bucket list using these 4 steps and encourage the young ones in your life to do so, too.

  1. Write it down.  Dedicate a notebook to your bucket list, keep an updated document on your computer or smart phone, or sign up on one of the many sites like bucketlist.org. Of course, there are iPhone and Android apps for creating and maintaining a bucket list.
  2. Use prompts.  Here are a few examples: Where do you want to visit? What do you want to experience? What do you want to learn? Who do you need to say or finish?  Who do you want to meet? What is your work?
  3. Update your list every so often. It shouldn’t be static, because you’re not. Humans change all the time; your list can, too.
  4. Look at other people’s lists for inspiration.  Know your aims are personal growth and fulfillment and that these aims will be reached over time, if they are indeed reachable. Some people never stop striving, so they never reach the end of their “growth.”

Here are some items from bucket lists of total strangers…maybe you’ll be inspired.

  • Write a book
  • Backpack Europe
  • Help a complete stranger for the good
  • Spend time with family, no matter how old we all get
  • Skydive
  • Own a restaurant
  • See the Pyramids
  • Love people who hate you
  • Resign from a job you don’t like
  • Dance as you walk down the street
  • Connect with teachers who shaped your life and tell them your story
  • Fly in a hot-air balloon across the country
  • Mentor someone
  • Learn a martial art
  • Volunteer at hospice
  • Be a vegetarian for 21 days
  • Conquer your biggest fear
  • Bury the hatchet with people with whom you’ve been in conflict
  • Tell your parents/siblings you love them

What do you want to do?

Lee Nyberg seeks to serve seniors and their families through her company, Home Care Assistance of Nebraska.  Home Care Assistance provides in-home senior care, helping seniors maintain their independence, dignity, and control and giving their families peace of mind. For more information, visit HomeCareAssistanceOmaha.com.