Alzheimer's onset slower in bilingual individuals: study

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Bilingual individuals who have been able to speak more than one language for several years are able to delay the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms four or five years longer than those who speak just one language, Canadian researchers have found.

Scientists from York University in Toronto studied 450 Alzheimer's patients with the same level of impairment when the study began. Half of the participants had been able to speak two languages for most of their lives, while the other half were strictly monolingual. The investigators found that the bilingual group reported symptoms and were diagnosed four or five years later than the monolingual participants, The New York Times reported.

Although more studies are needed to link bilingualism and its effects on the development of Alzheimer's, exercising the brain, whether it be through crossword puzzles or learning new languages, helps to keep the brain nimble, researchers say.