Join our weekly newsletter.
Articles, news, and ideas.

Languages, people and their cultures.

In need of a translation or interpreting service? Get a 5% lifetime discount now!

Can Being Bilingual Really Delay the Onset of Dementia?

Can Being Bilingual Really Delay the Onset of Dementia?
on July, 16 2014
Image credit: Friday Lunch at the PH Senior Center taken by Bill Larkins under Public Domain.

Image credit: Friday Lunch at the PH Senior Center taken by Bill Larkins under Public Domain.

This is what a recent study in India found out – that being bilingual can delay the onset of dementia. Dementia is a chronic disorder that is usually associated with aging. The condition is feared by many because it changes mental processes. Those who have dementia may have memory disorders or changes in personality. Dementia can also impair one’s judgment and ability to think logically. There are a lot of reasons why dementia happens, but it is most common among the elderly, ages 55 and above. For now, there is no cure for dementia. There are modern methods that are used, but further researches are still necessary. Though dementia may not necessarily be cured, it can actually be delayed. A study conducted at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, India with over 600 Indian respondents has found out that there is a way to delay dementia, and this is by being bilingual.

A Definitive Conclusion

According to Dr. Huntington Potter from the University of Colorado, the said study has a very definitive result. This is due to the number of subjects involved in the study and how the study was conducted. Thus, it totally strengthens the idea that learning more than just one language can really delay the onset of dementia.

With the use of a controlled study, researchers were able to ensure that the results were definitive. According to the results, monolingual subjects started displaying the symptoms of dementia at an average age of 61. For those who can speak two or more languages, the average age is 65. Even if other factors such as history of having dementia in the family, sex, educational background and employment status were controlled, the same results were revealed. This further strengthened the idea that speaking more than one language can actually delay dementia.

The Other Factors

There were also other factors that were varied to see if the results would remain the same. For instance, researchers used participants that have no formal educational background at all. Despite not having formal education, being multilingual still helped delay dementia as they produced the same average. The idea is even strengthened by the fact that the respondents were Indians who lived an impoverished life. A lot of them have not received proper education and nutrition. Despite these factors, the effects of bilingualism on dementia remained the same. However, there were other factors not considered in the study such as when the respondents learned another language. This could be the future of other studies to test whether or not timing can be a factor for delaying this debilitating condition.

It’s Never Too Late

Given the advantages of being bilingual or multilingual, it is high time to give foreign language learning a try. The study has also somehow proven that those who have learned more languages have even greater chances of delaying dementia. Therefore, at this stage in your life, you can go ahead and learn another language. It might be a bit difficult, but if you can delay the onset of dementia and other brain-related diseases, then you will still benefit in the long run. After all, language learning can be fun and exciting. You just have to spend a few hours a week to learn a particular language.


Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

Join our weekly newsletter for articles, news and ideas

In need of a translation or interpreting service? Get a 5% lifetime discount now!