Can learning more than one language help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease?
Not exactly, but if you’re already affected by the illness, being bilingual may buy you some time. According to the Daily Mail, scientists at York University in Toronto found that bilingual individuals affected by Alzheimer’s generally sought treatment for symptoms 3.2 years later than people who spoke only one language. On average, bilingual people were 78.6 years old when they began to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s, compared to 75.4 for people who only spoke one language.
To explain the effect, the Daily Mail went to one of the scientists who conducted the study:
“Speaking two languages isn’t going to do anything to dodge the bullet,’ said Ellen Bialystok…But she added that improved cognitive reserve was ‘the same as the reserve tank in a car: Once the brain runs out of fuel, it can go a little farther’.