In the past few years, brain games such as sudoku have become very popular as people try to ward off the mental signs of aging. For the social types who aren’t prone to puzzles, there is another way to strengthen the brain.
Canadian researchers have found that the brain appears to treat multilingualism as a puzzle, of sorts, and that multilingual people develop Alzheimer’s symptoms about 5 years after monolingual people. The multiple language skills don’t actually affect the disease of Alzheimer’s – the brains of multilingual Alzheimer’s patients show deterioration – but multilingual individuals don’t show outward symptoms of the disease. This delay in symptoms appears to average about 5 years.
Although the participants in the study had been multilingual for several years, it may not be too late to start. Learning a new language is a fun activity that can open the door to new friendships and activities. It’s easy to start, too. Sign up for a class at a local community center or community college to learn with others. Grab some language software to learn at home. You can even start for free by getting a well-known poem from the internet and using Google Translate to see it in a different language.
Go ahead. Try it now!