Seniors in New York City share New Year’s resolutions for 2024: ‘Never too late’

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Regardless of age, there is always the opportunity to set and achieve new goals.

That’s the mindset of three women, all in their 90s, who live at Sunrise at East 56th, a senior living facility in Manhattan, New York.

“It’s never too late to improve yourself,” said Barbara Fleischman, 99, who is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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Along with Lois Hummel, 90, and Dolores Wharton, 96, Fleischman spoke with Fox News Digital via Zoom about their New Year’s resolutions for 2024. 

They also shared some advice for younger generations. Their answers may surprise you.

Fleischman’s biggest New Year’s resolution is to be less judgmental of others.

“I want to assume that everyone is trying to be better, just like I’m trying to be better, and so I’m not going to sit in judgment,” she said.

“I’m just going to accept people and say, ‘They’re trying.’”

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Fleischman also aims to stop jumping to conclusions this year, she said.

Her resolutions for 2024 are quite different from the ones she set in years past, she indicated.

For example, she used to resolve to not eat so many sweets — but now she feels she’s earned the right to enjoy her dessert.

“Why do I need restraint? I’m 99,” Fleischman said with a laugh. “I’m having pumpkin pie or mint chocolate ice cream, and enjoying it very much.”

Hummel, who grew up in Pennsylvania, said her primary New Year’s resolution is to continue her focus on staying active.

The day after Christmas, to mark her 90th birthday, she accomplished her longtime goal of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

“I couldn’t have done it without my trainer, Doug, and my very close friend, Miriam, who went with us and has a great sense of humor,” Hummel said.

The bridge was quite busy that day and not quite as serene as she expected — but Hummel said she still enjoyed the experience.

Looking ahead, she will continue working with her physical therapist and plans to walk around Roosevelt Island, which is about a mile in circumference, she said.

Like Fleischman, Hummel has also resolved to work on mastering the art of acceptance.

“Acceptance is absolutely the key to happiness — but it’s probably the most difficult thing you could possibly achieve,” she told Fox News Digital. “I try, but I haven’t been very successful at it.”

Wharton, a lifelong New Yorker who’s been close friends with Fleischman for over 50 years, also has a resolution to walk regularly.

“I’m using a walker now, after having been in a wheelchair for a while after a fall last week,” she told Fox News Digital. 

“So now I want to be able to walk — not with a walker, but on my own — right into Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale’s, my favorite stores.”

When asked to share her best advice for younger generations, Fleischman stressed the importance of constantly growing and learning.

“You have to learn from what is happening around you and be smart enough to accept it,” she advised. “Acceptance is very important.”

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For example, Fleischman said she’s learned to accept the fact that she doesn’t hear or see as well as she once did, and she can’t swim like she used to — but she’s accepted those realities and still considers herself “very lucky.”

Hummel, a retired economist, encourages others to adopt a practice that encourages introspection and reflection.

“The most important thing I ever did for myself was to spend four years doing silent meditation,” she said, a practice that she started in her 60s and wholeheartedly recommends.

“It will give you insights into yourself and will serve you for the rest of your life, because you can learn more about acceptance than you can learn any other way.”

She added, “The more you look, the more you see the type of person you really are.”

Hummel also stressed the importance of looking after animals and the environment.

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Wharton’s advice is for people to “interact harmoniously” with one another.

After working for years on a nonprofit program to advance the careers of women and minorities, she also encourages females “to aspire to go into the corporate world.”

The three women agreed that giving back to others and to the community should be a primary focus.

Fleischman, who spent many years doing volunteer work, shared a mantra she said her husband used to follow. 

“He said if the community has been good to you and you haven’t suffered, you owe something back to it. It’s a joy to help others who haven’t done as well as you have.” 

Above all, she added, people should try to be better, whatever that means for them.

“If each individual tries to be better and helpful to others, then the whole world will change.”

Fleischman also advised people to be “less concerned about themselves and more concerned about others,” noting that “self-absorption” is not healthy. 

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“We’re here not only to help ourselves, but to help others,” she said. 

“You learn so much by reaching out to others — it’s a wonderful gain. And I hope that will be a resolution for many people.”

New Year’s resolutions are especially important for seniors because they represent looking toward the future, according to Dr. Sandi Petersen, VP of health and wellness at Pegasus Senior Living in Dallas, Texas.

“Seniors should be encouraged to look forward, regardless of age,” she told Fox News Digital. 

As a geriatric clinician, Petersen considers this a critical factor in her evaluation of older adults.

“Are they looking forward to the future — or are they feeling isolated, alone or hopeless? If individuals are focused on the future, it’s a sign of mental health, whether they are 9 or 90+,” she noted.

As some older adults with cognitive decline cannot make resolutions on their own, Petersen stressed the need for their loved ones to engage them in future-oriented conversations to promote socialization and improved quality of life. 

“And, given the mind-body connection, we know that improved mental health increases the likelihood of improved physical health and a better sense of overall well-being,” she added.

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Diana Santiago, clinical supervisor at Caron Treatment Centers in Pennsylvania, noted that future goals for the older adults in her facility are mostly focused on “purpose and quality of life.” 

Family seems most important to these folks, as that is what drives them to seek treatment,” she told Fox News Digital.

Some of the most common resolutions among her senior patients include improving relationships with family members, getting physically stronger and healthier, managing anxiety and depression, and managing chronic pain.

“Sometimes goals with this population can even be simply focused on getting home from treatment and seeking to get better quickly,” Santiago said.

“We will use this as a motivation rather than as an obstacle.”

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