I.M. Pei, the renowned Chinese American architect, designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland at age 78. Cuban-born abstract artist Carmen Herrera was 101 when her show at the prestigious Whitney Museum opened.
At age 79, Mick Jagger, who works out at a "dancing gym" daily to prepare for the Rolling Stones' brutally physical, hours-long concerts, recently said, "Doing anything high-energy at this age is really pushing it, but that makes it even more challenging."
And therein lies a big clue to aging well: Creative individuals are designed to thrive on challenge. The innate, imaginative problem-solving abilities of gifted artists not only keep them young but also healthy.
Experts agree. People who have developed complex lives with multiple interests and talents continue to develop psychological complexity and tolerance for ambiguity, and to thrive creatively, according to Gary Gute, professor and director of the Creative Life Research Center at the University of Northern Iowa.
"While brains inevitably age, creative abilities do not necessarily deteriorate," says Bruce Miller, behavioral neurologist and director of the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. "The aging brain responds well to art by allowing the brain's two hemispheres to work more in tandem.
"This ability to use one's creativity throughout a lifetime, and the impact of crystallized intelligence gained from the years of accumulated knowledge and life experiences, help to cultivate the aging, creative brain," Miller adds.