The Joy of What’s Next – Having a Bucket List

Everyone, no matter their age, deserves to dream big and have moments and goals to look forward to.

At Thrive, one of the movies we feature often in our theaters is the Jack Nicholson / Morgan Freeman classic, The Bucket List. This movie sparked the idea that dreams deserve to be lived out, so we created a program based around just that! We call it the Dream Weaver program! Each and every day, we are dedicated to enriching the lives of our residents… but we wanted to take it one step further and help them to live out their lifelong dreams and wishes – so each month, our Social Network teams make it a priority to ensure our residents check off items on their bucket list.

For us, there is no dream too big or too small – it’s all about what matters most to our residents. Some of the many wishes we have helped our residents to fulfill are:

  • Having fresh flowers delivered every week
  • Returning to favorite old hangout spots to reminisce
  • Receiving the gift of movies and books that they’ve always wanted to experience
  • Visiting venues like aquariums, museums, theme parks, sporting events, and more – even if it means crossing state lines
  • Taking mini-vacations with their best friend(s), such as trips to the beach

There’s nothing like seeing the unexpected joy on a resident’s face when they get to check off a bucket list item or activity. It’s because of the meaningful connections and relationships our team members have with our residents that we’re able to know of and fulfill their bucket list items!

Bucket lists are known to stimulate creativity, relieve stress, and enhance your life.[1] All good things to consider to help us age more gracefully. With that in mind, we decided to speak to Marsha Farrell with Marsha Farrell Care Consulting about what it means to make a bucket list, and how having exciting experiences to look forward to is important for older adults. Marsha is a seasoned nurse, speaker, educator, and consultant to patients and their families who promotes quality of life (QOL) and excellence in end-of-life care and pain management.

Here’s what she had to say!

Thrive: Hey Marsha! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today?

Marsha: Well, I have been a nurse for 42 years, and my journey has taken me through different types of nursing and allowed me to develop different types of skills. For the past 17 years, I have focused on hospice and palliative care (specialty care that treats symptoms and stress and supports people living with serious illnesses). Most of that time I have spent in education. So, I’m board certified in hospice and palliative care and in pain management, which is very important for quality of life.

Thrive: That’s impressive! So, we were reading on your site, Marsha Farrell Care Consulting, about how you found your true calling. Could you tell us a bit more about that?

Marsha: I spent a lot of time in home health and really enjoyed being with people. Once I got involved with hospice care, I was able to use my experience in nursing to connect with people who were towards the end of life and find out what was important to them. And I found that rather than just trying to fix this or that, it was really important to understand what people’s preferences and goals were.

Thrive: What great insight! Would you tell us a little about the event that you just held at Thrive at Green Island?

Marsha: Sure, the event was called “The Bucket List”. We talked about living intentionally and thriving. There’s a quote that I love by the author of The Little Prince, and it says, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” And so, the goal of the event was to help people take that step so it’s a plan and not just a wish. Maybe it’s going to the beach; Maybe it’s passing down a family recipe for future generations. So, we discussed goals and how to take that next step.

Thrive: And what would you say are the building blocks of taking those next steps?

Marsha: Write it down – it can be a lot of fun! You know, as we age, we can get away from being daring. Bungee jumping is for the young! Haha. We start to think less about big things like international travel and tend to focus on things closer to home like spending time with family and really enjoying those experiences. A bucket list is going to change – it’s going to ebb and flow. I had an older lady in my ballroom dancing class that carried a bucket list with her in her purse, and she was constantly checking things off and adding things.

Thrive: We love that! So, a bucket list isn’t necessarily about doing big, grandiose things. It’s more about finding things that bring you joy?

Marsha: That’s absolutely right… I want people to be able to sit back and think about their lives and be thankful for the things they’ve accomplished and the things they’ve enjoyed. You know that “attitude of gratitude”? If we can reflect, it helps.

Thrive: Definitely! So, once you’ve written your list down, how do you go about making it happen?

Marsha: You have to take steps. For example, if you want to write a recipe book to share, you need to collect recipes and ideas from your siblings and other family members. And then you need to find someone to type them up and print it out. It’s important to decide what you want to do and start taking the steps to accomplish it one at a time. It’s about being forward-thinking. Giving yourself hope and something to look forward to is a great thing!

Thrive: We couldn’t agree more. As you are probably aware, our Thrive communities offer Memory Care. How do you think that bucket lists are beneficial to older adults in need of Memory Care?

Marsha: I think the reflecting and reminiscing about accomplishments and things they’ve enjoyed in their lives, which is part of making a bucket list, could be very helpful. Getting family members to help them make scrapbooks or visiting places they used to go would be a very good thing for helping them to remember.

Thrive: Awesome. Well, we really appreciate your time and insight!

We are so thankful to Marsha for sharing her knowledge and perspective on making dreams come true at any age!

If you haven’t started already, get out your pen and paper and create your bucket list today and encourage the older adults and kids at heart in your life to do the same. As Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

At Thrive Senior Living, no matter if you are looking for independent living, assisted living or memory care – making sure that all residents get the opportunity to check things off their bucket list is a priority! Click here to find out how you can thrive with us… because you deserve it!


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