Did You Know?…(15)

Learning another language may be pivotal in fending off dementia. Evidently, there is a link between this debilitating brain disease and language skills.

    • Previous studies have found that even furthering learning/education and/or participating in cognitive and mentally challenging activities, may reduce the onset of dementia. This study also revealed that even people who could not read, but spoke two languages, seemed to have an advantage against the disease as opposed to those who spoke one language.
    • The author and researcher of the study, Dr. Suvarna Alladi, at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India says, “Our study is the first to report an advantage of speaking two languages in people who are unable to read. Speaking more than one language is thought to lead to better development of the areas of the brain that handle executive functions and attention tasks, which may help protect from the onset of dementia.
    • It is estimated that one in three U.S. Seniors are expected to die with dementia.
    • The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s.
    • Approximately 650 people from India were recruited for the study. The average age was 66 and these individuals had already been diagnosed with dementia prior. An estimated 390 spoke two or more languages, while 14 percent were unable to read.
    • The languages spoken in India where the study was conducted included: Telegu, Hindi, Dakkhini, and English. The majority of these patients (240) already had Alzheimer’s disease, 189 had vascular dementia, 116 had frontotemporal dementia, and 103 had dementia with Lewy bodies and mixed dementia.
    • Damage to the brain cells causes dementia, no matter what type. This damage, then hinders the cells ability to communicate with each other. As a result, thinking, behavior, and feelings are all affected, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

***Personally, I used to really enjoy taking French in junior high school and Spanish in high school. Who knew at the time, that these learning these languages, could prove to be healthy advantageous down the road? It may be a good idea to consider picking up at least one of these languages again. Just saying….

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

September 2014

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