Being 95: a rewarding meditation

3 hyacinths in a small pot, extremely old. Also on the table, a Minnie Mouse phone stand.
How will you feel at 95? Like Minnie Mouse, born 18 November 1928?

The surprising rewards of meditating on being 95

I’ve asked 10 people to imagine being 95. Each time, child or adult, same reaction: surprised, interested, honest. They think about it seriously. Then they tell me. Now I’m asking you.

And nobody’s more surprised about this than me!

Perhaps they’ve never thought about extreme old age in quite this way before. For some it was like a tiny meditation. For others, perhaps it was a chance to say exactly what they think, and be taken seriously. Their answers go right to the heart of the matter, and they’re all different.

I learned in my 40s that every questionnaire or survey should bring value to all parties. Doing a questionnaire should be useful not only to the researcher but also to the respondents. Happily, I saw this happen in front of my eyes, ten times in a row.

So I have no qualms about asking you to ponder on these questions, and answer them. You can do this in comments or (if you’d rather keep it private) to me personally by email.

2-minute questionnaire about your own extreme old age

  1. The easy question: how would you describe yourself? Examples: “16-year-old high school student” or “74-year-old woman” or “41-year-old choreographer.” (I need your age: that’s crucial.)
  2. Imagine yourself at 95. What will your life be like?
  3. At 95, what will you be like?

That’s all! I can’t wait to hear from you!

What’s my purpose?

In “A Boy’s View of Old Age” I told you that I’m restructuring my play, The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People. This version may not be the final script, but I’m testing the use of “vox populi” comments: statements from numerous people about their expectations of extreme old age. No names, just your opinions and ideas.


I want answers from all age groups! So please do share this page with any older or younger friends and relatives who may find it interesting to meditate on being 95.

Bonus: you will help me to reclutter my computer

Turns out my 9-month-old MacBook Pro was faulty and needed new parts. OK, that only took two weeks. Simultaneously it turned out that an external hard drive acting as Time Machine also was faulty. Maybe a specialist data recovery firm will rescue all my data, maybe not.

However, on Elsie’s Scale of Terribleness, the event is only a 2/10. It began as an 8/10 disaster. But nobody died! And while it’s taking a long time to retrieve an app here, a doc there, an attachment here, a URL there — I’m almost enjoying this. It’s a case of involuntary decluttering. And it’s nothing to do with being 95.

Now, back to those questions, please! Help me to reclutter my computer.

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18 thoughts on “Being 95: a rewarding meditation

  1. Mick Canning says:

    1. 68-year-old man
    2. Probably quite frustrated with life (see below).
    3. Going by my body’s current trend, I’ll have severe mobility issues of all sorts but hopefully all my faculties which will leave me incredibly frustrated as I value my ability to walk and travel very highly.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Mick, thank you for being the first and bravest!

  2. 1. An 81 year old man.
    2. My life will, I hope, continue with an interest in observing all around me.
    3. Already suffering the pain of arthritic joints and their replacements, – no doubt the result of a too active sporting life – and having watched my mother’s increasing frailty until her death at 99, I expect my mobility will be more restricted, but my brain hopefully active.

  3. Sadje says:

    how would you describe yourself? Examples: “16-year-old high school student” or “74-year-old woman” or “41-year-old choreographer.” (I need your age: that’s crucial.)
    An almost 62 year old woman.

    Imagine yourself at 95. What will your life be like?
    I don’t want to be that old. No one in our family has reached that age.
    At 95, what will you be like?
    If I’m alive at 95, I’d probably be suffering from multiple joint pains, diabetes and hypertension.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks, Sadje

      1. Sadje says:

        My pleasure

  4. 75 year old man.
    I want to be 95 but the odds are not good (three younger brothers have already died and my Dad barely made 80 with mental decline). I plan to be surrounded by aged children and youthful grandchildren who adore me. I no longer run daily but take long walks. I love watching movies and having dinner with family and a few friends. I keep abreast of current affairs and sometimes post a humorous Blog.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks, Geoff.

  5. judibwriting says:

    71 year old retired, in assisted living. My body is already acting as if it is well into its’ 90’s so It isn’t likely I’ll be around another 20 years. I’ll continue to use what I have as long as I have it (mental acuity is lovely) and continue to find delight in what I love with gratitude- pain and continued physical decline and all. What an amazing time to be alive with what is happening in the world all around us, upsetting as it often is.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you,Judi!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I am a 76 year old woman with parents who lived to 92 and 89 and many earlier relatives who lived into their late 90’s. So I often think about this question. I will be reading, probably large print books, enjoying living with my granddaughter and taking short walks and long naps.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You are way ahead of most of the human race, in often thinking about this question. With benefits!

  7. 1. 41 yr old full time working mum
    2. I hope to follow my grandma and great grandma and remain independent, busy, socially active, still in my own home and hopefully seeing plenty of my kids, grand kids and great grand kids.
    3. I think I’ll still be my positive self, maybe frustrated that my body can’t run 5km any more. I’ll still be learning all the time, reading and enjoying company.

    My grandma is almost 99 and I remember her mother who lived to 92 as well as my great aunt who made 103. So I can honestly say that at 95 years from my date of birth, I do not expect to be dead.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      And I’m betting this is a self -fulfilling prophecy. How fortunate you are in having these positive role models.

  8. Oh, Rachel, I love this question. I turn 72 tomorrow, am married to a vibrant 85-year-old who is my role model for fitness, my lover and running buddy, best friend, and the smartest person I know. We are both writers and researchers, even after being retired from working for others for more than a quarter of a century. I’m working on a novel, actively art journal and use it to learn more about my book characters, and feel optimistic about living to 95 and beyond. Because my husband is 13+ years older, I may be a widow for a long time. I imagine life at 95 to be filled with memories of our lives together, and if I’m lucky enough to still have a curious mind, new adventures with friends and the younger members of our family. I hope to still play the piano and enjoy walking, along with the occasional glass of a fine single malt scotch. You are right — this was a rewarding meditation! Thank you!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Hey Elizabeth, glad you found this small exercise rewarding. I can see you exploring the idea with honesty and spirit! I like the look of your advanced old age, as do you. I think writers are a deeply privileged group in that we always have projects and we love having a project. Or maybe that’s just me projecting!

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