Can Being Bilingual Stop You from Developing Dementia?

You may have heard the theory that learning another language can prevent your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease or dementia as you get older, but is it true? Yes and no. Being bilingual might not keep you from facing cognitive decline, but it can delay its onset for a few more years.

Losing Cognitive Abilities

Some researchers have suggested that learning a foreign language might help delay the onset of dementia.

Dementia is a loss of cognitive abilities. One of the most common forms of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a normal part of aging, though aging can bring about forgetfulness and fogginess. For example, it is not uncommon for a person to forget where they parked the car after a trip to the local shopping mall. Forgetting how to drive home from the mall, however, can be a warning sign of dementia.

Currently, there are no tests that can determine who will get dementia and who will not. The causes of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are “not well understood, and consequently, there are no proven steps that people can take to prevent it. Nonetheless, some researchers have suggested that learning a foreign language might help delay the onset of dementia” (Roberts & Kreuz, 2019).

The Benefits of Being Bilingual

In a study published in Neurology on “648 people with dementia, 391 of them bilingual,” results showed that the “bilingual patients developed dementia 4.5 years later than the monolingual ones.” No one knows why this is so, but Alzheimers.net suggests that “speaking two languages requires a specific type of brain training and switching between two languages requires a specific type of attention. That part of the brain, if exercised, may be what delays certain types of dementia.”

Best Steps to Slow Onset

Though learning a foreign language at any age can bring richness to your life, Roberts & Kreuz say, “The best evidence that foreign language learning confers cognitive benefits comes from research with those who are already bilingual.” There is currently not enough research to determine if learning another language later in life is beneficial to delay cognitive decline from dementia.

But monolingual people can take steps to delay dementia onset as well. According to Mayo Clinic, “Engaging in a variety of activities, especially those promoting mental and social stimulation, may help people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia slow or delay its onset.”

Better Business with Better Translation

While the jury is still out on whether or not learning another language later in life can stave off dementia and other cognition issues, we understand the importance knowing another language can play in business.

At ITC Translations, we’ve been connecting businesses to their international employees and clientele since 1999. Our 2,500 handpicked translators work in a variety of languages and have working knowledge of the industry in which they translate. Whether it’s anatomy or gastronomy, we’ll ensure that your translations are completed to the highest degree of accuracy possible. Contact us today for more information on how we can help your business through better translation today.

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