Dementia and Language Bilingualism Helps Ward Off Alzheimer's Disease

Dementia and Language Bilingualism Helps Ward Off Alzheimer's Disease

Yiyang Yu (Northeast University, China), Sihan Lu (Northeast Normal University, China), Yan Wu (Northeast Normal University, China), Qiong Wu (Okayama University, Japan) and Jinglong Wu (Okayama University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0925-7.ch005
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Abstract

There has been extensive discussion with regard to whether bilingualism helps ward off dementia. However, there is still debate over bilingualism's effects. Researchers have determined that bilinguals have a greater advantage in delaying dementia than monolinguals. Researchers have used cognitive reserve to explain their views. However, recently, some researchers have arrived at a different conclusion, stating that bilinguals have no advantage compared with monolinguals in delaying dementia. In this review, we summarize a review of studies on bilingualism and dementia, supporting the viewpoint that bilinguals have an advantage in delaying dementia compared with monolinguals.
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Introduction

As technology leads to advancements in medical treatment, life expectancy continues to increase, thus increasing the proportion of the elderly population. Adverse effects of brain diseases on the health of the elderly, particularly dementia, have become increasingly prominent. According to the report from the World Health Organization and the International Alzheimer's Association titled “Dementia: A public health priority” (World Health Organization, Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2012), there were 35.6 million patients with dementia patient worldwide in 2012; this number is expected to increase to 65.7 million by 2030 and to 115.4 million by 2050. Moreover, $604 billion was spent on nursing care in 2012 alone. To benefit the health of mankind and save the resources of human society, it is imminent to find a way to resist dementia. Recently, resistance to dementia has received significant attention in society, and many efforts have been focused on this field, with some achievements. Many researchers focus on the study of dementia and language. Alzheimer's disease directly affects the patient's language skills. Researchers have found that different subtypes of dementia have different effects on the language ability of patients; for example, the language skills of patients with Alzheimer's disease will be reflected in the phoneme (Whitaker 1976, Balyes 1982), syntax, (Schwarts 1979, Obler 1983), semantics (Barker 1968, Bayles 1982, Nicholas 1985, Schwartz 1979, Bayles & Tomeda 1983, Gewirth 1984, Robinson 1996), discourse and pragmatic aspects (Nicholas 1985, Ripich 1988). Therefore, do language skills, particularly the number of language acquisitions, have effects on resisting dementia?

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