Many people in their lives come up with some version of a “Bucket List.” There are always things each one of us has dreamed of doing in our lives. When a loved one is living with a serious illness they may feel their bucket list has become unattainable. Especially now with the added restrictions and complications of living in a world so affected by COVID.

As a caregiver, you can still help your loved one live their Bucket List with a “re-invented” version. Start thinking about the Bucket List in a different way. Make it a collection of positive possibilities. It takes a bit of creative thinking and the experiences may not be exactly the same, but there can still be a sense of adventure and joy recaptured.

Here are some things you can focus on:

  • Rediscovering life goals
  • Bringing joy to others
  • Don’t just dream the dreams – live them, virtually
  • Finding a little joy in small things each day
  • Giving thanks to those who make dreams come true

If they have not shared their Bucket List with you, a good place to start is simply asking your loved one a series of questions:

Is there somewhere you always wanted to travel to?

Is there someone you’d love to have a meal with again or to visit again?

Is there someone you’d wish you could see perform, a concert or maybe a play you would like to see?

Is there a book you wish you read?

Is there an adventure you wish you took?

As you begin this list, be realistic according to your loved one’s current health conditions and how life has changed living during a pandemic. Now, more than ever, it must be safety first. For instance, traveling across the ocean to Tuscany may not be realistic, but watching travel videos can almost feel like they are there. Many libraries are now hosting online virtual travel sessions, take advantage of what is available. You can even do some research on upcoming virtual tours and plan a trip on your loved one’s calendar.

Often reconnecting with friends or even family is a big one. Maybe they always talk about their best friend from high school they always planned to see again or the grandson who lives across the country. If traveling to see this special person is risky, set up a Facetime call or Zoom. You can even think bigger about this, arrange a virtual meal between your loved one and that special person. Pizza with the grandson, or dessert with the friend that is many miles away.

Some wishes may be even more simple. Like reading the one Hemingway they haven’t read, watching a game, or seeing a Broadway play or ballet they would love to see. There are streaming services online for Broadway. Even The Kennedy Center has online options. If they love sports, stream a game and watch together. You can make this one almost feel like they are at the stadium or ball park by planning ahead. What foods can you serve that makes it feel like you are there? Wear your team shirts, serve beverages out of team stadium cups. Invite friends to watch virtually.

Finally, make sure the list includes things that have an external focus. Paying it forward can help your loved one feel as if they are contributing and still doing something worthwhile. Help your loved one see what they can do still matters by doing something positive for someone else. This can bring them a great sense of self-worth, something that many can lose when they feel defeated by illness. Maybe it is a note of encouragement to someone else with health issues. Maybe it is a donation to their favorite charitable organization. Or even as simple as donating old games to a Boy’s Club in your hometown.

Your UpliftedCare team can often assist by helping you build the “Bucket List” or maybe even helping you make the things on your loved one’s list come true.

Remember with a little creative thinking you can help your loved one still attain their goals and change the conversation from “I wish I had” to “Wasn’t it fun when we”.