Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic's many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Philanthropy at Mayo ClinicYour support accelerates powerful innovations in patient care, research and education. Give today.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Possibly. Studies on the connection between bilingualism and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease have had conflicting results.
Some studies have shown that if you know two or more languages — and you have risk factors for Alzheimer's — you may experience a delay in the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms. Some researchers believe being bilingual or multilingual helps develop your brain's cognitive reserve in the same way that engaging in other mentally and socially stimulating activities does.
However, other studies have not found a clear connection between being bilingual and having a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease. More research is needed before it's completely understood how cognitive reserve works to delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
It's thought that activities that develop cognitive reserve work because they increase the robustness of your brain's architecture — enriching blood flow, enhancing the activity of neurons and putting more of your brain to use. This may make up for the loss of diseased parts of the brain.
Engaging in a variety of activities, especially those promoting mental and social stimulation, may help people at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia slow or delay its onset.
And if you're interested in learning another language, go for it. However, more research is needed before it's known whether learning a second language later in life has the same protective effect as might a lifetime of speaking a second language.
Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization and proceeds from Web advertising help support our mission. Mayo Clinic does not endorse any of the third party products and services advertised.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.