Avoid the "Anti-Bucket List" with Longevity Planning

Scott Schill |

You know how when you are shopping for a new car you start seeing the same make and model everywhere? There is a name for that, it’s called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Your brain is subconsciously looking for the car, and as a result, you start noticing it more. I experienced the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, but it wasn’t about a silver Volvo, it was about my mom and retirement in America. Call it retirement interrupted.

Retirement Interrupted

JoJo was vivacious and youthful in appearance and spirit. She was also hyper-flexible, and a lifetime of aerobics had left her in need of major hip surgery. Eight torturous weeks in a body cast ahead. That’s retirement interrupted. But here’s the kicker: Ten days after surgery, on a Friday afternoon, we got some shocking news. First, the nurse said that Medicare wouldn’t continue to pay for her stay because they couldn’t do more physical therapy until the cast was removed. Second, she had to be out in 72 hours—so by Monday. She couldn’t go home and she couldn’t stay at the rehab facility. But she’s in a body cast for six-and-a-half more weeks. We cried. Welcome to the American healthcare system and Medicare coverage.

Now JoJo was energetic, and vibrant. She had a bucket list a mile long. She also wasn’t shy, a good communicator you might say. And now, amid the tumult, she forcefully voiced her anti-bucket list.

JoJo’s Anti-Bucket List

First, JoJo says, she never wanted to be forced from her home or become a burden on her children. She also didn’t want to lose her life savings to long-term care costs. Above all, she wanted family peace and harmony. These seemed eminently reasonable wishes. We were determined to help JoJo avoid her anti-bucket list. But how?

JoJo had done a lot of third-act or longevity planning with health, financial, and legal professionals. Yet, she worried constantly about her anti-bucket list. Whose fault was it? Her doctor said, “I fixed her hips, I did my job.” Her financial advisor said, “I invested prudently, I did my job.” Her lawyer said, “I prepared her will and powers of attorney, I did my job.” Everyone was doing their job but no one was doing the job. JoJo felt vulnerable as if she again got tangled up in the health care system all her worst fears might come true.

Once it happened in our family, I noticed it everywhere. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. The truth is that retirement interruption and the anti-bucket list comes for most families. It even comes for wealthy and loving families.

But what if there were easy steps families could take today, while everyone is healthy and independent, to actually avoid the anti-bucket list down the road? What if when the nurse says Mom can’t go home, for example, you knew a professional to call to work with the hospital and coordinate the pieces to bring her home instead? What if you could make the system work a little more for your family, instead of against it, all without overwhelming your life? That’s the promise and opportunity of an emerging industry called longevity planning. Now’s the time to look for a planner near you.


Scott Schill, a Northwest native, found his calling in longevity law after a searing experience advocating for his mom. As the Director of Longevity Law & Planning at S. R. Schill & Associates, and founder of Thrive Longevity Law, Schill believes that relationships are key to longevity. He lives in West Seattle with his family.