Mental, social engagement key to senior health

Of all the research presented at the recent Alzheimer's Association conference in Vancouver, perhaps the most significant is one that touts the importance of staying mentally and socially engaged. Scientists from Oregon Health and Science University found the more time seniors spent outside the home, the better their cognitive function, CNN reports.

The study, led by Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, analyzed the amount of activity and engagement of 148 subjects with mild cognitive impairment. There was a distinct correlation between how much time they spent inside and their level of function. Whether it be continuing education, social sports or traveling, the message is clear: stay engaged with age.

"This study shows the importance - from the very beginning of someone's diagnosis - of staying engaged," Beth Kallmyer of the Alzheimer's Association, told CNN. "It really makes a difference in their cognition and therefore their quality of life."

Heading back to the classroom has been a popular option for many older adults, and there are many opportunities for them to do so. According to U.S. News and World Report, about 60 percent of accredited, degree-granting institutions offer tuition waivers for older adults.