Older people have a "fundamentally optimistic" impact on society, according to the Finance Secretary.
Many communities already depend on elderly people and will continue to do so, John Swinney told MSPs investigating the affect of Scotland's ageing population on public finances.
His comments come a month after census details showed the number of people aged 65 and over increased by 85,000 since 2001 and now represents 17% of the population. Those aged 80 and over was up 19% at 230,000.
By contrast, there was a decrease of 69,000 (11%) in the number of children aged between five and 14 over the past decade. The changing demographics have led to calls for a fresh look at policies on how to pay for services, particularly in care.
Mr Swinney accepted some people will need more support but called for broad perspective.
"I can think anecdotally of individuals who are thriving, utterly thriving, in their 90s and in need of next to no interventions from the state whatsoever," he told members of the Finance Committee.
"They have led good, strong, healthy lives and are continuing to fulfil a commitment to their communities. I can think of a number of people that fall into that category. I think we've got to take a pretty broad perspective of all of this.
"Clearly, longevity does mean that individuals in certain circumstances will require more support, but in other circumstances it means they can continue to make a vibrant contribution to our society.
"When I look at the volunteering efforts that go on, when I look at the leadership that's exercised by people who are - if I can say it - in their retirement, in social enterprises and other organisations, many of these organisations and many social-care situations could not survive without that type of commitment. I think I would take a fundamentally optimistic view out of all of that."
He was prompted by a question from SNP committee member John Mason, who reflected that the ageing population is often presented as "doom and gloom".