Unleashing your inner Monet, Mozart or Missy Elliot is one of the healthiest and most important things we can do

Ian Robertson, Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, joined the Today With Sean O'Rourke show on RTÉ Radio One to talk about the relationship between age and creativity. Does the former have an impact on the latter? The simple answer might be ‘yes’, but the reasons for this are very complex.

"One of the challenges of getting older, particularly as people retire is finding a purpose in life and some people find it very tough and we know there can be bad health effects of retiring and in fact retiring early can increase risk of dementia but there are all negative findings.  There’s actually a huge opportunity when people hit the third age for them to get out of the tramlines if you like of career and mortgage and family that they can actually expand themselves and the evidence is that creative endeavours, creative interaction with your community and creative activities actually have very positive effects on our brains and health."

Ian says it’s important not to let our ideas about ageing become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"If you look at Picasso’s paintings, he had a new peak creativity every decade or so and even in his 80’s, he was developing new artistic styles.  These are extreme versions but we all have our capacity for finding our own peak creativity…  There’s every reason we should strive for that when we’re older."

Ian says engaging in creative pursuits actually form new connections in our brain which nourishes and protects it so unleashing your inner Monet, Mozart or Missy Elliot is one of the healthiest and most important things we can do.

"What tends to hold people back is what we assume one should be doing as an older person and we have these stereotypes about how older people do, like they don’t learn very well or they’re not fashionable and when we see examples that break that, they’re very inspiring…  Most of us, we internalise these views that are predominant in the youth-driven media and we hold ourselves back and so yes there’s the opportunity to not be inhibited, to not be constrained by reputation, made to look a fool.  We can escape that when we get older."


Professor Robertson will be taking part in The Bealtaine Debate - Does Age have a Bearing on Creativity? on Friday May 11th at St James's Hospital, Dublin. Tickets are free and are available here