My answer to Why do U.S. veterans in old age have less incidences of age-based cognitive decline than non-military …
Answer by Ken Larson:
I agree with Ron – we are indeed all in this together and mental activity at all ages is the key.
I am 71 and have resided for 10 years in a Veteran’s Home with 180 other veterans on a comfortable campus in Hastings, Minnesota, a beautiful small town located at the junction of the Mississippi and Vermillion Rivers.
I recovered from serous illness the first 2 years at the home and the last 8 years since I have performed volunteer work running a foundation for Veterans and small business assistance as well as supporting SCORE and Micro Mentor. I walk 3 miles on local trails each way to the local county library which gives me an office to meet with clients and supports me with equipment. My health has never been better and I am gone from the veteran home most of the day at the present time.
The area has 25 miles of hiking trails and related out door attractions, a VFW, American Legion and similar clubs and activities.
The Veteran’s Home itself does its best to promote mental activity, transportation to places of interest and meetings, discussions and social interaction. It offers work opportunities, transportation for education and similar support programs, as well as direct connection to the Veteran’s Hospital in Minneapolis for mental and physical care.
The age groups at the home range from veterans in their 30’s to well into their 90’s.
Those who stay mentally and physically active do indeed defer cognitive decline. Those who do not, even though they are young, decline precipitously. We had a resident 100 years of age who could run rings around some younger people in discussions and was highly regarded for his mental acuity because he was extraordinarily active for his physical age.
Internet use is a barometer I have often observed as a measure of cognitive maintenance. Further reinforcing Ron’s point, those veterans at the home who have their own computers and get into gaming and similar activity or lethargic pursuits fall prey to obesity, mental and physical decline and ultimately must be transferred to acute care facilities or they leave.
If you are interested in further detail on this topic and the environment I have discussed please see the articles linked below: