The ‘Gold’ in Your Golden Years

Magali Perquin, Ph.D. (photo by Doug Brunk)

Being multilingual may prove to be the “gold” in your golden years.

Results from a study presented during a poster session at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Honolulu found that elderly who were fluent in more than two languages were 3.94 less likely to develop cognitive impairment, compared with those who were fluent in two languages. Moreover, those who were fluent in more than four languages were 5.07 times less likely to develop cognitive impairment, compared with those who were fluent in two languages.

In a study led by Magali Perquin, Ph.D., 230 seniors from Luxembourg with a mean age of 73 years who practiced two to sevenlanguages were invited to participate in a longitudinal study exploring cognitive decline and associated risk factors. The researchers used the Language and Social Background Questionnaire to evaluate their multilingual ability and performed standard neuropsychological and neurogeriatric assessments to determine the strength of association between cognitive impairment and the number of practiced languages, adjusting for age and education.

In her poster, Dr. Perquin, of the department of epidemiology at the Public Research Center for Health, Strassen, Luxembourg, and her associates noted that the while the reasons behind the association remain unclear, “it is likely the benefits of practicing many languages might be related to the concept of cognitive reserve and brain plasticity, which results in higher resistance to aging-related neurological insults and subsequent cognitive impairment.”

Time to enroll in that refresher course in German I’ve been putting off. 

— Doug Brunk (on Twitter@dougbrunk)

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Filed under Geriatric Medicine, IMNG, Internal Medicine News, Neurology and Neurological Surgery

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