Bilingualism May Delay Dementia

Want to keep your mind sharp as you age? Speak another language; the effect persists even if you can’t read.

A study published in Neurology found that, on average, dementia symptoms develop four years later in people who are bilingual compared with people who speak only one language. Researchers interviewed 648 patients with dementia in Hyderabad, India, where bilingualism and trilingualism isn’t uncommon; about half of the patients interviewed spoke multiple languages. On average, bilingual patients had displayed the beginnings of dementia at 65.6, older than other patients, who displayed symptoms at 61.1.

Interestingly, whether the patients were literate or not didn’t seem to matter; it seems the mental act of switching between languages is what provides the later benefit.

So, want your golden years to be a little more golden? Take up a second language today.


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