Speaking second language delays dementia
Researchers from the UK and India recently published a study in the journal Neurology that suggests bilingualism may help delay three types of dementia, even in those individuals who are illiterate.
For their study, the researchers evaluated 648 people from India who were diagnosed with dementia. The average age of the patients was 66, and a total of 240 had Alzheimer's disease, while 189 had vascular dementia and 116 had fronto-temporal dementia. The remaining 103 of the patients had dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and mixed dementia.
The researchers found that people who spoke two languages did not develop dementia until 4.5 years later than those who were monolingual. The types of dementias that did not develop until much later in the bilingual patients were Alzheimer's disease, fronto-temporal dementia and vascular dementia. Furthermore, 14 percent of the patients studied were illiterate, which makes this study particularly unique.
Thomas Bak, from the University of Edinburgh's School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, notes that their findings “suggest that bilingualism might have a stronger influence on dementia than any currently available drugs.”