atients with terminal illnesses often find meaning by crossing off items from their bucket lists. And they may even reap health benefits.
Children with life-threatening diseases who had their wishes fulfilled had lower depression and anxiety levels, and focused less on their physical limitations, according to a small study of Israeli children published last year in the journal Quality of Life Research. They also felt more hopeful about achieving goals. That’s big for anyone facing the end of life, when the loss of control can shadow every day.
In the US, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants children their wishes. The Dream Foundation does the same for adults with later-stage terminal illnesses. Here are the top five requests the charities receive:
Help paying for basic needs
Many adults with terminal illnesses face financial hardships that put even small comforts beyond reach: air conditioners, for instance, or scooters or lift chairs. Many also ask for help paying a utility bill, to keep the lights on and power their medical devices.
Hawaii is the top choice, but national parks are in high demand as well.
Travel to a family reunion
Patients often request help paying for travel, food, and accommodations so they can say their last goodbyes.
Tickets to Disneyland
Adults love the Magic Kingdom nearly as much as kids, and often seek a final trip to the theme park billed as “happiest place on Earth.”
A day on the town
Many patients ask for simpler pleasures: a day at the spa or a dinner at a favorite restaurant.
A trip to Walt Disney World
Adults lean toward Disneyland in California, but for kids, there’s no place like Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. This is their top request.
A meeting with a celebrity
Kids love to meet sports heroes, but they also make some unexpected requests. A 12-year old with a congenital liver disease, for instance, met the production team from the Animal Planet show “River Monsters.” A 17-year old with a life-threatening bone disease visited with the musical performer Adam Lambert.
For thrill-seekers who have some physical stamina, this might mean a snowboarding trip in the Alps. For others, the goal is Paris.
Trip to Hawaii
Oahu is the most popular destination.
A 6-year-old with leukemia was granted a six-minute shopping spree at Target. His take: $22,000 worth of Christmas gifts for himself and his family.