Useful Redundancies (Multilingual Brains Have More)
Dementia is the result of age-related damage to the brain. While there are some drugs and dietary practices that help slightly in avoiding this damage, it turns out that bilingual brains function better at the same level of damage, probably due to redundancy in connections (mediated by the different languages’ words’ connections). I have a rich monolingual vocabulary, and so expect to enjoy some similar (probably less dramatic) benefit in my senescence. Still, it may be worth my time to extend my mostly-forgotten high school Spanish into a more usable state.
(according to the research of Ellen Bialystok)
The symptoms of dementia can be delayed by an average of four years in bilingual people.
Multilingualism doesn’t delay the onset of dementia—the brains of people who speak multiple languages still show physical signs of deterioration—but the process of speaking two or more languages appears to enable people to develop skills to better cope with the early symptoms of memory-robbing diseases, including Alzheimer’s.