A second tongue helps retain the memory
Dementia is one of the pressing health problems of the elderly population. It refers to a class of mental disorders characterized by the progressive decline of the brain functions such as memory and cognition. During the latter phase, older persons with dementia have difficulty in
performing simple everyday tasks and retaining short term memory. Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. On a positive note, patients with early dementia can use cognitive activities to preserve viable brain cells. These activities include playing chess, dominoes, crossword puzzles, bingo, Sudoku and scrabble.
Recent researches suggest that the lifetime use of a second language delays the progression of Dementia. Bialystok et al. (2007) showed that bilingualism delays the onset of dementia 4.1 years later than monolinguals. However, the study results can only be generalized to people who have mastery and usage of another language and not to those who only knew one or two conversation phrases. These findings are especially promising for Asian countries who have at least two or more native languages like the Philippines. But still further studies are needed to determine the effect of multilingualism in the progression of dementia.
So if you like to start a new hobby of learning another language, here’s a jump start to the Filipino language. “Kumusta! Kapag ako ay matanda na, ako ay hindi magiging makakalimutin.” (Hello, when I become older, I will not be forgetful.”)
Source: Bialystok E. et al. Bilingualism as a protection against the onset of symptoms of dementia. Neuropsychologia Volume 45, Issue 2, 2007 pages 459-464