Nonagenarians, people in their 90s, are an elite group. They’ve lived long and gained wisdom through decades of life experience.

We spoke with 10 nonagenarians and asked what really matters in life from their unique perspective. We also asked what advice they have for younger folks.

“Being independent is important. I don’t want help from anyone. You have to keep busy and maintain a sense of humor. I swim, exercise, and knit sweaters for underprivileged children. I worked until I was 92. I didn’t even realize I was old until then.”

- Lee Katz, age 96

maryse pepin

“What motivates me? Doing work I love to do. I still work. Young people, kids (the smaller they are, the better), they motivate me. Don’t overeat; no snacking before bed. And go to the gym. I go Monday, Wednesday, and Friday — Saturday and Sunday, too.”

- Lyle Marty, age 93

marco pepin

“I’ve been so blessed. Family, friends, and church are very important to me. Our family is very close. I don’t like to sit a lot. I like to be active. When I fell and fractured my pelvis last fall, I said to myself, ‘Now this is not going to change life in a bad way.’ My family and friends were important in helping me get through that. I’ve always remembered my father’s advice: ‘People should work at being the best they can be.’”

- Kathleen Montgomery, age 89

edith bodkin

“When I was 12 years old, my father told me, ‘There are only two people you have to please in life — yourself and God. If you don’t please them, you’ve got problems.’ I don’t drink and never smoked. I work at the air museum, giving tours when I’m able. I’m a little slower, but I keep going.”

- Jim Peters, age 91

“My family makes me happy. I have a great wife and great friends. Working with my hands makes me happy. I love putting a seed in the ground and making something grow.”

- Charles Ross, age 96

shannon walker

“My family matters in life. My being alive matters. Having a good positive attitude is important. Having a good sense of humor [and] enjoying life and people [are important]. Be thankful for each day and enjoy your chocolates.”

- Evelyn Dymond, age 95