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Is it true that multilingualism can halt Alzheimer's disease?

Is it true that multilingualism can halt Alzheimer's disease?

We live in a world of fantastic technology, one replete with incredible innovations dreamed up by people blessed with marvellous brains and unlimited vision. A near-bottomless pit of information is at our fingertips thanks to the creation of the Internet and portable devices, and we can speak to our friends and relatives on the other side of the world at the touch of button.

The medical world hasn't been left behind in this world of technological advances - indeed, there are many treatments easily available today that render many human afflictions relatively harmless, conditions that may have proven serious mere decades ago. However, there is still of great deal of work to be done in this field, as there are still so many illnesses that doctors and medical professionals are yet to fully understand. Alzheimer's disease is one such condition.

Alzheimer's disease - a scourge on modern medicine

This cruel affliction is currently irreversible, progressive brain disorder that gradually robs the patient of their memories and thinking skills. Over time, brain power becomes so diminished that performing even the easiest of tasks, such as dressing each morning or preparing healthy food, becomes an impossibility. Alzheimer's disease is a complex condition that the world's finest minds have yet to fully figure out, but it's not for the want of trying.

Alzheimer's disease is cruel disease, and plenty more research is needed to beat it.Alzheimer's disease is a cruel condition, and plenty more research is needed to beat it.

According to Alzheimer's Australia, our government has set aside an extra $200 million for dementia research, to be spread over the next five years. This timely financial boost will bring annual spending on Alzheimer's research to some $60 million, in further efforts to slow the progression of the disease, or even cure it completely. The same source states that approximately 342,800 Australians are currently afflicted with the condition, which is expected to rise to 400,000 in less than a decade. Even more worrying, it is thought that, should a medical breakthrough fail to materialise, just short of 900,000 people will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2050. Finally, a staggering 1,800 new diagnoses of dementia occur each week - one person every six minutes. 

Now, though, a new study has emerged which links the ability to speak two or more languages with a decreased risk developing Alzheimer's, or at least delay its onset by a number of years. How has this conclusion been reached? Let's take a look.

Languages as memory supplements

Belgian academics at the University of Ghent analysed a cross-section of 134 people who were receiving treatment for what was likely to be Alzheimer's disease. Just under half (65) of the patients could fluently speak two or more languages, with the others monolingual. Intriguingly, it was found that both the manifestation and diagnosis of the condition happened at least four years later for those who could speak multiple languages. Furthermore, the average age of a dementia diagnosis was higher in the multilingual, not occurring until the age of 77. In the monolingual, it was 73, notes Alzheimers.net.

"These findings confirm previous research suggesting that bilingualism can slow down cognitive aging and contribute to cognitive reserve. It seems that constantly and actively controlling two languages is like a workout for the brain. It challenges our grey cells and keeps them from degenerating," noted the researchers in a statement.

It seems that constantly and actively controlling two languages is like a workout for the brain. It challenges our grey cells and keeps them from degenerating.

This isn't the first time that the ability to speak more than one language has been found to halt the onset of Alzheimer's. Previously, academics at Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences found similar results to the more recent study, in that bilingual patients could delay Alzheimer's, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia, again by four years.

"Speaking more than one language is thought to lead to better development of the areas of the brain that handle executive functions and attention tasks, which may help protect from the onset of dementia," said Dr Suvarna Alladi, who led that particular study.

Though these revelations are a tiny chink of light in the battle against Alzheimer's, plenty more research is needed if we are to find a cure once and for all.

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Is it true that multilingualism can halt Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease is a condition that science does not yet fully understand, but it has been discovered that multilingual people will have a slowed progression. 

We live in a world of fantastic technology, one replete with incredible innovations dreamed up by people blessed with marvellous brains and unlimited vision. A near-bottomless pit of information is at our fingertips thanks to the creation of the Internet and portable devices, and we can speak to our friends and relatives on the other side of the world at the touch of button.

The medical world hasn't been left behind in this world of technological advances - indeed, there are many treatments easily available today that render many human afflictions relatively harmless, conditions that may have proven serious mere decades ago. However, there is still of great deal of work to be done in this field, as there are still so many illnesses that doctors and medical professionals are yet to fully understand. Alzheimer's disease is one such condition.

Alzheimer's disease - a scourge on modern medicine

This cruel affliction is currently irreversible, progressive brain disorder that gradually robs the patient of their memories and thinking skills. Over time, brain power becomes so diminished that performing even the easiest of tasks, such as dressing each morning or preparing healthy food, becomes an impossibility. Alzheimer's disease is a complex condition that the world's finest minds have yet to fully figure out, but it's not for the want of trying.

Alzheimer's disease is cruel disease, and plenty more research is needed to beat it.Alzheimer's disease is a cruel condition, and plenty more research is needed to beat it.

According to Alzheimer's Australia, our government has set aside an extra $200 million for dementia research, to be spread over the next five years. This timely financial boost will bring annual spending on Alzheimer's research to some $60 million, in further efforts to slow the progression of the disease, or even cure it completely. The same source states that approximately 342,800 Australians are currently afflicted with the condition, which is expected to rise to 400,000 in less than a decade. Even more worrying, it is thought that, should a medical breakthrough fail to materialise, just short of 900,000 people will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2050. Finally, a staggering 1,800 new diagnoses of dementia occur each week - one person every six minutes. 

Now, though, a new study has emerged which links the ability to speak two or more languages with a decreased risk developing Alzheimer's, or at least delay its onset by a number of years. How has this conclusion been reached? Let's take a look.

Languages as memory supplements

Belgian academics at the University of Ghent analysed a cross-section of 134 people who were receiving treatment for what was likely to be Alzheimer's disease. Just under half (65) of the patients could fluently speak two or more languages, with the others monolingual. Intriguingly, it was found that both the manifestation and diagnosis of the condition happened at least four years later for those who could speak multiple languages. Furthermore, the average age of a dementia diagnosis was higher in the multilingual, not occurring until the age of 77. In the monolingual, it was 73, notes Alzheimers.net.

"These findings confirm previous research suggesting that bilingualism can slow down cognitive aging and contribute to cognitive reserve. It seems that constantly and actively controlling two languages is like a workout for the brain. It challenges our grey cells and keeps them from degenerating," noted the researchers in a statement.

It seems that constantly and actively controlling two languages is like a workout for the brain. It challenges our grey cells and keeps them from degenerating.

This isn't the first time that the ability to speak more than one language has been found to halt the onset of Alzheimer's. Previously, academics at Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences found similar results to the more recent study, in that bilingual patients could delay Alzheimer's, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia, again by four years.

"Speaking more than one language is thought to lead to better development of the areas of the brain that handle executive functions and attention tasks, which may help protect from the onset of dementia," said Dr Suvarna Alladi, who led that particular study.

Though these revelations are a tiny chink of light in the battle against Alzheimer's, plenty more research is needed if we are to find a cure once and for all.

Is it true that multilingualism can halt Alzheimer's disease?
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