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Canadian researchers discovered that people who spoke and used two languages were less likely to suffer from dementia or the onset of the disease may be delayed. Dementia is incurable and it includes mental decline beyond the normal effects of aging. The symptoms could range from forgetting where your keys are to forgetting what keys are for.

Being fluent in two or more languages could delay the mental decline because of the necessity to use two different language systems in your every day life. It makes no difference how a person had learned the languages or how good their grammar is. It is important that they are used on every day basis.

The researchers were quite surprised at the results they got. They studied 184 people from Toronto area and found striking differences in the appearance of dementia.

In people who spoke just one language, the onset of dementia was noticed at an average age of 70.8 in men and at 71.9 in women. But bilingual and multilingual people did not begin to suffer from dementia until an average age of 76.1 in men and until 75.1 in women.
On the overall, the difference in the onset of dementia was 4.1 years.
Speaking two languages will certainly not stop dementia but delaying its onset is also beneficial.

Canadians are being encouraged to start learning new languages or learning a musical instrument in order to slow and post pone the development of dementia. .

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I also read of a study of nuns in a convent in the central United States that tested the women's writing samples upon entering the convent in the 20's and 30's and compared them to the mental stability later in life. The findings showed that women with a higher complexity of sentence structure, using higher level vocabulary and grammar were LESS LIKELY to exhibit signs of dementia. Another case for exercising the mind, as I see it :-)

My grandmother died with Alzheimer's disease, so this is a particularly personal issue with me.
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