The Secret to Living Past the Age of 90

Having worked with the elderly population for over 8 years, first as a nurse aide and then as a Physical Therapist, I have met a variety of wonderful people. I have especially come to love the “nonagenarian” group, that is “a person who is from 90 to 99 years old”. Over the years, I have started to pay closer attention to the traits and characteristics that these individuals seem to have in common, hoping for a glimpse into the secret behind a long, successful life.  The following list is what I have summarized from all those lessons and conversations.

  • Gratitude, positivity – By far the most common answer I have received when I specifically ask 90+ year old’s what is the secret to a long life, is to think positively and display a positive attitude towards any situation you encounter. They often express mounds of gratitude towards the experiences, both good and bad, and relationships they have encountered along their journey.
  • Family/personal connections – Most individuals that reach this age have strong connections with close family and friends, who they communicate with often.
  • Having hobbies – These individuals aren’t often found sitting around with nothing to do or watching television; they have a full schedule of events and hobbies! Whether it’s sewing, wood carving, volunteering in the community, card game clubs, or crossword searches, they keep their minds and bodies active with a purpose.
  • Staying physically active – They are often in great physical shape for the years of wear and tear that their bodies have experienced. Countless times I have heard these individuals talk about the daily miles they walked into their 70’s and 80’s, or the games of golf or tennis that they participated in.
  • Resilience/grit – Without a doubt, these individuals have a huge dose of resilience and grit to their personalities. I had an individual give me advice once stating, “you have to just face it and continue on”. These characteristics combined with the positive, grateful outlook on life has carried them through many peaks and valleys of life.
  • Adaptability – Last but not least, they have all learned and honed the skill of adaptability. It is hard to fathom the change and technological advances that many of these individuals have witnessed throughout their life, yet they have been able to be flexible in order to change, adapt, and continue on with new skills.


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