Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Speaking Two Languages May Delay Dementia Symptoms

Study of case records found it staved off signs of the disease by more than four years


"This illustrates that there may yet be many ways to help stave off dementia, once we have sufficient ways to stimulate the brain," Gandy said.

There have been other studies that have shown that people who are bilingual have a delayed onset of Alzheimer's disease, Rao said.

"This is another thing we can add to the list of mental abilities that seem to preserve brain function despite the fact that the brain may be ravaged by a disease like Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia," Rao added.

For the study, Bak's team evaluated the case records of 648 people from India who had been diagnosed with dementia. Of these patients, 391 spoke two or more languages.

Of those studied, there were 240 people with Alzheimer's disease, the rest had other types of dementia including vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and mixed dementia. Of the total studied, 14 percent were illiterate.

Those who spoke two languages developed the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia later than people who spoke only one language, the investigators found. This later development of dementia was also found in people who could not read.

There was no added benefit in speaking more than two languages, the researchers pointed out.

The benefit of being bilingual was independent of other factors, such as education, sex, occupation or whether patients came from urban or rural areas, the study authors noted.

While the study found an association between speaking two languages and mental ability, it didn't not prove cause-and-effect.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression