Not only does bilingualism increase your cognitive abilities, but research has shown that it also increases your brain health. A couple of reports show that bilingual individuals have more advantages than knowing how to order a sandwich in Spain, or take a cab in France. Research is indicating that being bilingual can delay the effectics of Alzheimer’s and dimentia, too.
Bilingualism and Alzheimer’s
A cognitive neuroscientst in the UK, Ellen Bialystok, has researched bilingual adults and found a remarkable effect of speaking more than one language. She found that those who speak two or more languages from a young age have delayed symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. She reports to a study at Baycrest, where she studied 200 cases of Alzheimer’s disease, and looked at patients’ backgrounds for the languages the spoke, as well as the age when family members noticed something was wrong – and then when they were formally diagnosed. Through her research she found:
In both cases, the bilinguals were significantly older (when formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease), by about four years. We repeated that study using another 200 patients and got identical results.
Ellen concluded that while Alzheimer’s may be unavoidable, you can delay its effects through bilingualism. Those who are bilingual cope with the disease better, and postpone it’s symptoms.
Dementia and Speaking Two Languages
Bilingualism hasn’t only been known to postpone the effects of Alzheimer’s, but researchers have found the same kind of conclusions when it comes to dementia. Like Alzheimer’s, patients studied showed a remarkable delay in dimentia’s effects when they spoke multiple languages.
Kathryn Hawkins writes in Being Bilingual Helps Your Brain Stay Strong, “As a result of this enhanced brain functioning, bilingual individuals who get dementia will get it an average of four to five years later than those who speak just one language.”
Boost Brain Power with Bilingualism
These are just two cases out of many showing how fluency in many languages can boost brain power. In our culture that’s looking for the next remedy for “incurable” diseases, bilingualism offers a solution … or at least an answer that can help delay the process. Speaking multiple languages works out your brain. It offers more than a chance to tour the world comfortably or carry a conversation with someone from a different culture. It offers you the chance to improve your brain health while you’re gaining a world of experience, all at the same time.