Bilingualism may be Protection against Alzheimer's

As the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease continues, so does the variety of studies to find a cure. Though a breakthrough has yet to be found, health specialists and cognitive scientists are always engaged in gaining more insight into this debilitating disease.

An interesting study of late concerns brain scanning by Canadian researchers in the journal Cortex that suggests that bilingualism may delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. "Bilingualism appears to contribute to increased cognitive reserve, thereby delaying the onset of Alzheimer disease and requiring the presence of greater amounts of neuropathology before the disease is manifest," the study's authors wrote, and reported in CBC news.

Tom Schweizer, a neuroscientist who led the research at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, told the media source that because bilingual people constantly switch from one language to another or suppress one language to speak in the other, their brains may be better prepared to compensate through enhanced brain networks or pathways when Alzheimer's sets in.

Dr. Howard Chertkow, a professor in the department of neurology and neurosurgery at McGill University in Montreal, told "There's no downside to be bilingual. If anything, there's a benefit. There's a benefit in your performance in school, in your attention, benefit when you get up to old age in terms of protecting your brain to some extent."

Though these findings have yet to be applied in Continuing Care or Alzheimers Care settings, bilingualism could be another tool in fighting Alzheimer's.