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Being Bilingual Has a Protective Effect in Delaying Dementia - DementiaGuide.com
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Being Bilingual Can Help the Onset of Dementia Symptom

Posted on January 6, 2009 by DementiaGuide

Being Bilingual Has a Protective Effect in Delaying Dementia Symptoms

Research has determined that speaking more than one language can delay dementia symptoms as much as four years.

Studies have found evidence that the lifelong use of two languages can help delay the onset of dementia symptoms by as much as four years compared to people who are monolingual.

Recent increased interest in alternative therapies for dementia symptoms has lead to more studies examining how lifestyle factors (i.e. education, physical activity...) may help build "cognitive reserve" in later years of life. Cognitive reserve refers to enhanced neural plasticity, compensatory use of alternative brain regions, and enriched brain vasculature, all of which are thought to provide a general protective function against the onset of dementia symptoms.

Scientists with the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Research Centre for Aging and the Brain recent scientific studies point to evidence that another lifestyle factor, bilingualism, may help delay dementia symptoms. The Studies have found that speaking two languages throughout one's life appears to be associated with a delay in the onset of symptoms of dementia by four years compared to those who speak one language.

The researchers determined that the mean age of onset of dementia symptoms in the monolingual group was 71.4 years, while the bilingual group was 75.5 years. This difference remained even after considering the possible effect of cultural differences, immigration, formal education, employment and even gender as influencers in the results.

The team is working on a follow-up study that will further examine bilingualism and dementia onset. They plan to conduct interviews and cognitive assessments on bilingual and monolingual patients in follow them for a few years.

There are no pharmacological interventions that are this dramatic. The data show a huge protective effect. As the studies are recent, this is still a preliminary finding but nonetheless in line with a number of other recent findings about lifestyle effects on dementia symptoms.

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