The Creative and Aging Mind

The Hooyman and Kiyak (2011) text mentions on page 205 several individuals in various fields who achieved significant milestones late in life. Select one of these individuals or someone known publicly who realized similar successes after the age of 50. Use the Internet or library to conduct a brief exploration of this person’s life. Respond to the following:

  • In what ways are the successes of this person a surprise to you based on your readings for this course thus far?
  • In what ways does the aging process make creativity and intellectual vision more difficult?
  • In what ways might the aging process make these things stronger?
  • How should the potential for enhanced creativity and wisdom from our older population affect social policy?

Support your answers with references from the readings cited according to APA guidelines.


In his insightful book, The Creative Age, Dr. Gene Cohen examines how creativity and creative expression can expand with aging. He provides numerous examples of scientists, artists, writers, and composers who produced their most innovative works in their later years. These include:

  • • Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), the father of calculus, revised his influential book describing the three laws of motion at age 71 and again at age 84.
  • • The German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855) made many discoveries well into old age. He updated his fundamental theory of algebra at age 71.
  • • The Renaissance painter Titian painted several masterpieces between age 78 and 83, and began experimenting with an impressionistic style in his later years.
  • • Hanya Holm (1893–1992) choreographed popular Broadway plays in her young-old stage, including My Fair Lady when she was 63 and Camelot at age 67.
  • • Three early leaders of the women’s rights movement started the six-volume History of Women’s Suffrage in 1875. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was 72, Susan B. Anthony was 67, and Matilda Gage was 61 when the book was published.
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