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This month, the nation will celebrate the life and legacy of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In one of the most iconic speeches in American history, King told 250,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1963 that “I have a dream.”
He then expounded on the particulars of his dream – that this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…that former slave and slaveowner will one day sit together at the table of brotherhood…that his children will not be judged by the color of their skin.
Even in the face of the difficulties of today and tomorrow, said King, “I still have a dream.”
In our youth-obsessed culture, dreams are thought to be the stuff of those who have not yet realized their life’s ambitions. But we all have dreams, even those who might be considered past their prime – perhaps especially so.
According to Abbott’s ENSURE® Dreams Survey, 65 percent of older adults have unfulfilled dreams. One responded that in his youth, his only goal was to become financially independent, leaving little time for dreams. “But at this stage of my life,” he said, “my aim is to dream big and set larger goals for myself without any fears.”
Indeed, setting and reaching goals is extremely important to – and for – seniors. Even short-term goals like eating more nutritious foods or walking a few extra steps each day go a long way toward increased energy, improved immunity and overall better health.
Confidence among older adults often suffers due to the decreased strength and mobility that comes with age. Establishing, tracking and realizing goals bolsters belief in one’s abilities as well as the motivation to climb new mountains, so to speak. Social connections often flourish, too, when seniors set their sights on a goal and enlist the help of others to assist or join them in the effort.
That’s all great news, but dreaming big – and reaping the benefits – is often difficult for older people. While some seniors are literally going out on a limb checking off their bucket lists, many are limited in their ability to realize their dreams. Another finding from the Abbott survey was that respondents were not achieving their goals because of diminished physical prowess and a lack of opportunity.
While retirement affords people the time to pursue aspirations and learn new things, it doesn’t always provide the channels. That’s where community living can be a senior’s best friend, offering countless opportunities to try new things, reawaken old passions, and virtually reinvent oneself.
At Friendship Village, our calendar is jam-packed with activities, classes, outings and events for residents each and every day. One coming up soon is our annual “Seniors Serving Seniors” project on Martin Luther King Day, when residents will help other seniors in the outside community by making sack lunches and writing notes of inspiration.
Often, our adventurous residents themselves create and lead happenings at Friendship Village. Some have only brief moments between activities; others may choose to focus on just a few interests at a time.
All can dream to their hearts’ content.