On Gifted Elders ~ A Beginning…


Welcome to my blog, a forum for thoughts about growing old gifted. It was my honor as a member of various gifted organizations to advocate for the recognition and needs of gifted individuals across the lifespan. Until quite recently, the focus of those who work in the field of giftedness was on the gifted child and adolescent. In the last few years, researchers and advocates began to write more about the characteristics and needs of the gifted adult. Presently, interest is growing regarding the specific needs of aging gifted individuals.

A few years ago, I wrote the following words as part of SENG’s (Supporting Emotional Needs  of the Gifted) “100 Words of Wisdom” project.

“We did not hear the word gifted as a child. We thought we were odd. Even as we age, it is difficult to say aloud, “I am a gifted adult.” We realize the differences in our reasoning, but mostly in our feelings. When loved ones hurt, we feel physical pain. A breathtaking sunset brings tears to our eyes. We lie awake at night, wishing we could set things right in the world. We labor to internalize the wisdom of Candide to tend our own garden; and, when we do so, it is with an intensity that could ignite the universe.”

The numerous  responses I received to those mere one hundred words were an impetus to my own reflections on the many gifted adults and gifted elders that I have known and who have touched my journey so deeply. My mentor, Annemarie Roeper, in her book Beyond Old Age, wrote of her experience as an aging gifted adult. “Much has been said and written and researched about gifted children. Gifted adolescents also have a place in the consciousness of researchers. But it seems that there is a dearth of information when it comes to the gifted adult and giftedness in old age has not, as yet, caught our attention as a worthwhile subject of investigation. All elders have the task of keeping their minds carefully trained, and to keep on using them” (Roeper, 2011, 23).

Annemarie’s words bring me to the reason and rationale for this blog. Through this window I intend to share with you, the reader, and the entire gifted community, the current thoughts and research regarding gifted elders, their characteristics, their strengths, and their lives. It is my hope that we may awaken an awareness of the needs of gifted elders to have family and caregivers who acknowledge and honor their giftedness and who understand that,  just as gifted students need differentiated learning experiences that respond to their unique needs, our gifted elders need responsive communities and residences that respond to the intensities and the wisdom or our gifted elders.


Navan, J. (archived). 100 Words of Wisdom. Archived online at:  http://sengifted.org/archives/articles/100-words-of-wisdom-joy-navan

Roeper, A. (2011). Beyond old age: Essays on living and dying. Berkeley, CA: Azalea Press.

11 thoughts on “On Gifted Elders ~ A Beginning…

  1. Joy, your blog is a welcome addition to the work on giftedness. Giftedness is so focused on children, that adults and elders are unintentionally marginalized.
    Thank you for adding to our knowledge. I look forward to learning more!
    Best regards,
    Lisa Erickson


  2. Hurray for this post, Joy–and for your blog. I do remember very well discovering the problems of “elder” gifted from my beloved mother-in-law, even before learning about it from Annemarie. Lois was in a “retirement” village, and I suddenly realized that being elder gifted could be exactly that going back to first grade–where the only reason the individuals were gathered together was age. Nobody to talk till until–thank goodness–she found a gentleman friend, a gifted painter. She lost him too soon (another problem about socializing as an elder) but her whole time there was an eye-opener for me. Also, a hint: For those elders who might be reading your blog, it would help if you changed the font color to black, as gray doesn’t show up a well on the white background!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Joy! I’m so excited to see your blog! You have so much knowledge and experience to contribute. Your topic is very near and dear to me. My elderly father passed away 2 years ago, and my mother is feisty,independent, and about to turn 90. I look forward to hearing your warm wisdom.


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