Can learning language help prevent dementia?

Dementia affects around 850,00 people in the UK, set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. Delaying Alzheimer’s and dementia can be a challenging task – but for many, it is possible. Part of maintaining healthy cognitive brain function lies in consistently challenging and expanding the mind. One of the most beneficial and successful way to do this is by learning a new language!

How does this work?

Studies have shown that people who utilise their brains more through furthering their language tend to have lower rates of dementia and memory problems later in life regardless of education levels, gender or occupation. As more research is being done, it is increasingly apparent that learning at least 1 more language can delay or stall the development process of Alzheimer’s and dementia. In the past, studies have shown that people who are bilingual show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia around 4.5 -5 years later than people who speak just one language. It has been suggested that this is due to bilingual people having a greater cognitive reserve, meaning that the brain will be more resilient to the damage taking place from Alzheimer’s. MRI scans of patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have shown that they retain more of their gray matter (which serves to process information in the brain) if they are bilingual.

What are the benefits?

The process of becoming bilingual exercises your brain, challenges you to concentrate and boosts key problem-solving skills. Bilingualism opens the mind in a very fundamental way. So, knowledge of languages can be of great benefit, no matter what you do or what age you are. Obviously, we can’t completely prevent a certain decline in memory that comes with age, but keeping the brain in good working order and expanding your knowledge through learning a new language can delay the progression of dementia later in life.

There are many resources and classes available in Glasgow and across Scotland for people interested in learning a new language. Based in Glasgow’s Southside, Lingo Flamingo is a language class that primarily teach languages to adults of all levels, and all profits go towards supporting and teaching older adults and those living with dementia in care homes across Scotland.

 

About Lingo Flamingo

Lingo Flamingo aim to make language learning relaxed, fun, immersive and accessible to everyone. They do this because they want everyone to experience the joy of learning a second language and to gain from the health benefits of bilingualism.

They offer a unique language learning experience to older adults and to those living with dementia in care homes and community locations across Scotland. By offering this fun, sensory linguistic experience, their classes have been shown to improve the well-being of participants, specifically through building confidence, creating connections between learners, stimulating the mind, and offering something new and exciting. Incredibly, in doing this, participant’s decision-making and multi-tasking skills show improvement and their ability to concentrate and communicate is heightened, meaning language learning is an activity unlike anything else on offer.

Over the past three years, Lingo Flamingo have worked with individuals at all stages of dementia diagnosis and the vast majority of their students have expressed their love for the classes saying they felt an increased sense of confidence and self-worth. What’s more, carers and family members are welcome to join in, therefore are also able to draw great benefit from the experience too.

Read more about care home classes here

More research work is always necessary when it comes to finding a cure one day for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Without volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to make further discoveries with Alzheimer’s research. At Glasgow Memory Clinic, we are currently running two different research studies:

 

Genes and Alzheimer’s

 

Etheral Study (Alzheimer’s Study)

 

Help shape the future and apply to take part today!

Posted 21st May 2019

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