Many of us have seen our aging family members grow older and slower over time, and aside from physical aches and pains, we can often see the mental agility of our loved ones change shape over the years as well.
As our brains age, cognitive function is impaired.
“Cognitive function,” in layperson’s terms, refers to things like short- and long-term memory, how quickly the elderly process new information, and even simply the ability to pay attention. After all, whether or not we remember something later depends on how well we’re able to pay attention now.
There’s good news, though.
A recent study published in the Annals of Neurology, from The Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, tells us that among those who speak multiple languages, cognitive functions are sharper in later years.
The study tells us that, “Participants who reported speaking two or more languages had significantly better cognitive abilities compared with predicted results from their baseline.” Overall bi- and multilingualism had, “the strongest effects on general intelligence and reading.”
Worried that you might be limited by being monolingual?
Here’s good news. The study adds that it didn’t matter whether study participants were natively bilingual, or if they picked up a second language later in life. “Positive cognitive effects were seen among participants regardless of when the second language was learned.” It’s never too late.
Have you been witness to enhanced brain function among older adults who speak more than one language? Tell us about it. If you found this post to be informative, consider sharing it with your network.