As you age, you may think you are inherently less creative, however, that may not be the case. We want to discuss the way the aging brain resembles the creative brain in many ways. Dr. Lynn Hasher at the University of Toronto saw that the older an individual, the more distractible they are. However, the older members of the group were better suited to utilize the distractions to solve problems presented further. Various other research, which focused on aging and cognitive thinking, demonstrates that the aging brain broadening its attention is in turn giving more room to utilize that ‘distracted attention’ and become creative thinkers. These studies show that a highly creative individual employs more of an expanded focused state of attention. Thus, this attention allows the individual to have more than one thing going through their mind at a given time.
Psychologically speaking, research has shown that areas of the prefrontal cortex in the brain, responsible for self-conscious awareness and inner emotions, are less in the aging brain. Some associate this with the weakened need to impress and please others, a prominent characteristic among aging individuals and creative thinkers alike. An additional similarity between these two types of individuals is the increased willingness to speak their minds and to disregard social expectations than a younger individual would.
Cognitive intelligence studies have suggested that older individuals have greater access to an “increasing store of knowledge” which is gained over a lifetime of learning and experience. By divulging into the bits and pieces of knowledge acquired throughout an individual’s lifetime, mixing those experiences with original ideas is what the creative brain is all about. Therefore, having the ability to access ones creative internal warehouse of knowledge provides an aging individual with the power of creativity within the aging brain.
Some suggest a challenge to both senior citizens and seniors-to-be. Consider a life lesson you would like passed on to future generations. Once you have done that, decide a creative medium where you can embed this message. For example, maybe a book, diary, musical number or painting. Make it the work of your post-retirement years to gain proficiency in that medium and consequentially produce work that embeds your message for generations to come. It is fair to say that even while people age, creativity stays young.
Do you want to be more creative than you already are? There are plenty of opportunities to be creative at Samaritas. See an event that catches your eye? Reach out to an event coordinator to volunteer and help.