Ed Glassman
Ed Glassman

How To Boost Creative Thinking In Senior Citizens

Here are some ideas for senior citizens to maintain and improve creativity and creative effort. Mix and match to achieve interesting outcomes.

Creativity is the production of new and useful ideas. To accomplish this, you connect and combine old bits & pieces in your mind into a new thoughts to produce unexpected creative outcomes.

Thus, you convert combinations of old ideas into new ideas. You do NOT create new ideas out of nothing. That doesn’t happen.

An old wife’s tale suggests that creativity declines with age, that seniors have less creativity than when they were younger. Don’t you believe it, or your creativity will surely decline.

The antidote? Concentrate on the following thoughts, taken from my book: “Creativity Triggers Are For Everyone,” and available from Amazon.com, to enhance your creative edge:

1. Seek Many Alternatives Before Choosing One

Consider this situation. You perceive a problem that you want to solve. An idea you like flashes through your mind and appears to work. You shout eureka, and the creative process ends. Actually, it hardly started; you fooled yourself and carried out the ‘quick fix.’

To avoid the quick fix, generate at least five new alternative ideas. One hundred is better, but who’s counting.

2. Ignore Premature Criteria

Knowing the criteria for a quality solution too soon suppresses creative thinking, boxing you in, and wasting your time worrying whether each new idea meets the criteria.

Instead, forget stated and unstated criteria. Take your new ideas to the moon, if possible.

3. Avoid Instant Evaluation

Evaluation of new ideas depends on old information, while creativity seeks new ideas. Old and new conflict with each other. So, to escape old thinking patterns, do NOT evaluate new ideas too soon. Let them linger a bit.

4. Listen To Other People’s Ideas

Other people’s ideas will often trigger new and better ideas in you.

5. Forced Withdrawal

Pretend that you live in a different country, or in a different environment, or that you have to solve a different, but related problem. In this way, you avoid getting bogged down in stifling old thoughts and habits.

6. Trigger-Ideas

Ideas that do not contribute to a quality solution, can trigger other ideas that do work. Indeed, even indifferent, exotic words can spark new ideas.

7. Force Combinations

You may create unexpected and useful ideas by combining ideas, objects, thoughts, and impressions with your problem. Connect your problem with unrelated thoughts.

8. Improve Your Ideas

Improve your idea relentlessly. This process itself will spark new ideas.

1. List what you like about the idea so you won’t change that.

2. List deficiencies, what you do not like in the idea, that need improving.

3. List ways to overcome the deficiencies and improve your idea.

This process will give you a sense of the usefulness of your idea. Recycle these steps until the idea shines. Allow this process to spark additional new ideas throughout.

9. Personalize Your Creativity Environment

Some people prefer to create in groups. Some like to create alone. Some in the shower. Some don’t have a preference. Some people combine bits and basic elements into a trigger that works well for them. Mix & match.

Remember: what works counts, not what an expert prescribes.

10. Use Bizarre Ideas To Startle & Upset Your Viewpoint

Generate a bizarre idea occasionally to shake things up.

— Remember to turn the creative process into an on-going habit —

For other ways to encourage senior citizen creativity, check out my book:


How To Use Your Inventiveness To Brighten Your Life.” 


©2016 by Ed Glassman


EdWARD Glassman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, founded the Program For Team Excellence And Creativity at the university. He led scores of problem-solving creativity meetings and creative thinking workshops-seminars for many large and small companies. He was a ‘Guggenheim Foundation Fellow’ at Stanford University, a ‘Visiting Fellow’ at the ‘Center For Creative Leadership’ in Greensboro, NC, a Visiting Professor at the University Of California at Irvine, and a Visiting Scientist at SRI International in Palo Alto, California.

His book: “Team Creativity At Work I & II: Creative Problem Solving At Its Best,” is available: CLICK here OR HERE.

His other book: “R&D CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION HANDBOOK: A Practical Guide To Improve Creative Thinking and Innovation Success At Work” is also available.   CLICK here  OR HERE

About the Author
Ed Glassman, Ph.D., is professor emeritus and former head of the "Program for Team Effectiveness and Creativity," in the medical school of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was also a visiting fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina.