Successful Seniors: 10 Stories of Purpose Discovered Later in Life

May 11, 2022
senior, woman painting, paintbrush, senior living

Although success may look different to you at different points in life, the ability to achieve success has no age limit. But it is dependent on having a sense of purpose. It’s that purpose that propels us forward, and at the same time, benefits our health and wellbeing in other ways as well. Research suggests having purpose can help you to live longer, reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk for depression. Not to mention it just makes life more rewarding and fun! How can you find purpose later in life? Check out these tips and stories of successful seniors for inspiration.

10 Stories of Successful Seniors

Aging gracefully by accepting that getting older means slowing down and not looking or acting younger than you are is absolutely outdated! As these successful seniors show, aging gracefully is really to live with purpose and make the most of life.

1.     Colonel Harland Sanders – Established the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain at age 65; nine years and 600 franchises later he sold his share for millions.

2.     Laura Ingalls Wilder – Began writing “Little House on the Prairie” at age 65; it later became a beloved television series.

3.     Estelle Getty – After years as a relatively unsuccessful actress, she achieved widespread fame at the age of 63 as Sophia in “The Golden Girls” television series.

4.     Grandma Moses – The American folk artist whose work was featured at the MoMA in New York and who graced the cover of Time in 1953, didn’t even begin painting until she was 78.

5.     Yuichiro Miura – In 2014, he became the oldest person to reach the top of Mount Everest at age 80 and has said he would like to try again at age 90.

6.     Rosemary Smith – A rally race champion in the 1960s, she became the oldest person to drive a Formula 1 car in 2017 when she was 79.

7.     Doris Self – Recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “oldest video game champion” at the age of 58 by scoring 1,112,300 points in the arcade game Q*bert.

8.     Smoky Dawson – Known as Australia’s first cowboy and a pioneer of Western music, he became the oldest person to compose, record, and release a new album at 92 years old.

9.     Mohr Keet – This WWII veteran became the world’s oldest bungee jumper in 2010 at the age of 96 (he didn’t begin jumping until the age of 88).

10.  Harriette Thompson – A cancer survivor who ran her first marathon at the age of 76, and at 91 years old completed her 15th marathon becoming the second-oldest marathon runner in U.S history.

How to Find Purpose Later in Life

There’s certainly no right or wrong way to go about finding purpose later in life, but these tips can help get you started.

●      Adjust Your Mindset – Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of aging or expectations that life should be a certain way, choose to look for the positives, be grateful for something each day and allow yourself to have an open mind. Sometimes new opportunities are right in front of you, if you just allow yourself to be open to seeing them. Practicing meditation can help you achieve this.

●      Be creative – The process of creating something can often bring you purpose in and of itself. Even if not, it can help you become more in tune with yourself making it easier to identify where you might find purpose. Options include painting, sculpting, writing, playing music or any type of creative activity you might enjoy. If one doesn’t come to mind, check your local library or senior center for available classes.

●      Take Stock – Engage in a bit of self-reflection and think about what strengths and abilities you have to offer. Also consider the foods, books, movies and hobbies you enjoy or even the types of people you are drawn to. Then explore what attracts you to these things and how you might be able to expand on them to help you find purpose.

●      Keep Learning – There’s a saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That certainly applies here and makes the case for broadening your horizons with continued learning to help find purpose. This could be a new skill, a new language, learning about different cultures, going back to school or even learning new recipes, learning to garden – it’s not necessarily the difficulty, it’s the effort that you make.

●      Make a Difference – It’s often the case that finding purpose is as easy as finding a way to contribute to others. This could be through helping out with the grandkids, volunteering for a cause that’s near to your heart, helping neighbors in need or getting involved in your local community in some way. It’s also a great way to stay connected to friends and family as well as to meet new acquaintances.

Senior Living Can Help

Senior living communities are ideal places to find your purpose. Not only do they offer a more active, convenient and carefree lifestyle than you may find at home, they make it easy to pursue hobbies, find new interests, and contribute through various clubs, daily activities, and enrichment opportunities. Plus, senior living communities are plugged in locally in ways hard to achieve on your own. By partnering with churches, schools, and charitable organizations they give you endless opportunities to connect in your local area.

Contact Friendship today to schedule your virtual or in-person visit by calling 540.777.7103!

To learn more, download our
Guide to Aging Gracefully

Guide to Aging Gracefully


Friendship North Campus

367 Hershberger Road, Roanoke, VA 24012


Friendship South Campus

5647 Starkey Road, Roanoke, VA 24018


Friendship Salem Terrace

1851 Harrogate Dr, Salem, VA 24153