Bilingualism can delay onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms: Study

November 10th, 2010 - 4:20 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 10 (ANI): Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute has found that speaking two languages can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms by as much as five years.

“We are not claiming that bilingualism in any way prevents Alzheimer’s or other dementias, but it may contribute to cognitive reserve in the brain which appears to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms for quite some time,” said Dr. Fergus Craik, at the Rotman Research Institute.

The special ability with two languages seems to equip people with compensatory skills to hold back the telltale symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as memory loss, confusion, and difficulties with problem-solving and planning.

The researchers found that bilingual patients had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 4.3 years later and had reported the onset of symptoms five years later than the monolingual patients.

The current study adds to mounting scientific evidence that lifestyle factors - such as regular cardiovascular exercise, a healthy diet, and speaking more than one language - can play a central role in how the brain copes with age-related cognitive decline and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

“Although a great deal of research is being focused on the development of new and more effective medications for Alzheimer’s disease, there are currently no drug treatments that show any effects on delaying Alzheimer’s symptoms, let alone delaying the onset of these symptoms by up to five years,” said Dr. Morris Freedman, head of Neurology and director of the Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic at Baycrest.

The study is published in the Nov. 9th issue of Neurology. (ANI)

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