Home Mental Health & Well-Being The Ultimate Retirement Bucket List and How It Can Support Mental Health Later in Life

The Ultimate Retirement Bucket List and How It Can Support Mental Health Later in Life

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Over 57 million US adults at least 65 years old are insured under Medicare, and about 30.8 million are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan specifically, according to reports from KFF.

It’s estimated that approximately one in four Medicare beneficiaries are also diagnosed with a mental illness, including but not limited to conditions like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Fortunately, Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans offer a range of inpatient and outpatient services related to mental health for older adults, and a small share of Medicare Advantage plans provide extra benefits specifically for mental health.

While there are myriad ways to care for one’s mental health later in life, including methods like talk therapy and using psychiatric medications that one’s health insurance plan can financially support, certain lifestyle choices can also make a significant difference.

A previous Forbes Health survey by OnePoll highlights several preventative measures older adults tend to take to protect their health as they age, including stimulating the mind with various games and puzzles and staying socially engaged.

A new Forbes Health survey finds over 40% of US adults at least 59 years old have a list of tasks and goals – commonly referred to as a bucket list – that they want to achieve during their retirement years, many of whom believe supports their overall mental health.

Read on to learn how positive, motivational tools like bucket lists can support an individual’s mental health as they age and what the ultimate retirement bucket list looks like.

The mental health benefits of a bucket list

Staying active and engaged later in life is directly associated with more positive feelings about one’s mental health as one ages. Among typical hobbies and daily routines, the coveted “bucket list” can help inspire activity, a sense of focus, momentum and fulfilment.

A bucket list can be any predetermined set of tasks or goals a person outlines as important for them to complete during their lifetime. Ranging from as general as “read more for fun” and as specific as “hike Machu Picchu,” bucket list elements typically aim to provide an individual with a sense of accomplishment and contentment.

Interestingly, over 40% of US adults at least 59 years old have a list of tasks and goals they want to achieve during their retirement years, according to a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 US adults conducted by OnePoll. Better yet, over 47% of them at least somewhat agree that a bucket list can support their mental health through retirement.

Across all generations, survey respondents are most excited about finding a new hobby as a potential result of their bucket list (57%), followed closely by travelling to other countries (56%) and trying more “extreme” sports (53%). See the most popular bucket list items in the US below.

For older adults nearing and navigating retirement, bucket list priorities seem to shift.

Survey respondents between the ages of 59 and 77 are most keenly focused on spending more time with their family and friends (55%), prioritizing their health and well-being (52%), travelling to other countries (46%) and spending more time in nature (46%).

Meanwhile, respondents at least 78 years old are excited about travelling to other countries (87%), finding a new hobby (78%), focusing on their health and well-being (74%), seeing more of the world’s sights (74%) and trying a new sport (74%).

While it’s common to experience increased feelings of worry and apprehension as one age, it’s clear that framing the years to come with a bucket list or similar tool can be a boon for one’s mental health and an overall positive perspective toward the future. Furthermore, utilising one’s mental health care benefits, such as those offered by various Medicare plans, can help support bucket list items like “focusing on one’s health and well-being.”

According to the Market Research Society’s code of conduct, this online survey of 2,000 US adults was commissioned by Forbes Health and conducted by market research company OnePoll. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). 

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