According to new research, people who were familiar with more than one language had a later onset of dementia than people who can only speak one language. This was found to be true even when the bilingual individuals were illiterate or lacking formal education.
The study looked at 648 individuals diagnosed with dementia and found that the average age of onset in monolingual participants was 61.1 years versus 65.6 years in the bilingual participants. According the study, bilingualism appeared to delay dementia in multiple diagnostic categories, including frontotemporal vascular dementia as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
According to an online report from the study researcher’s in Neurology Online, “This is the largest study so far to examine the impact of bilingualism on dementia and to document a significant delay in the age at onset of dementia symptoms in bilingual patients in comparison to monolingual patients.” The researchers also noted that this is the first study to show an impact in several different types of dementia.
According to MedPage Today, other studies have shown that vigorous mental activity is beneficial for cognition throughout life, even after dementia symptoms have developed. Learning more than one language is certainly valuable for a variety of reasons and, now, research has shown that bilingualism is useful to combat the onset of dementia.