At Lingo Flamingo we tackle dementia through language learning, but we didn't pull this idea from just anywhere. Rather, the wind in our wings is powered by some extraordinary research from the world's finest universities. In the article below we've rounded up the key facts and findings that have led us to create our unique language classes for older adults.
We spoke with lovely Mari Dougan about her mum, Patricia, who takes part in our French classes in Dundonald House Nursing Home in Ayrshire. Mari told us of the benefits the classes have had on her Mum - who was diagnosed with dementia in her early seventies, and who is now 78 - and of the enjoyment her Dad, Eric, has gained from attending the classes alongside his wife.
Here are eight of our favourite things we learnt from Mari about Patricia’s classes.
Research shows that the stigma surrounding dementia can be overcome when the range of services offered to those living with dementia is broadened. At Lingo Flamingo we see ourselves as part of the movement to challenge stigma by adding colour and variety to the services available to those with dementia.
One of the common myths cropping up when people discuss dementia is that it’s an inevitable part of the ageing process. And whilst it’s true that the likelihood of developing dementia increases with age - and that the majority of people living with dementia are over the age of 75 - there is nothing necessarily inevitable about it. In fact, there are many proven ways to minimise risk and reduce the chances of a dementia diagnosis.
One such way is language learning.
Research shows that those who are able to speak a second language tend to develop dementia up to five years later than monologuists. This is down to the fact that language learning keeps the brain active by employing the ‘desirable difficulties’ of novelty, challenge, and effort. That’s to say, the constant juggling between distinct sounds, new words, and unfamiliar concepts acts as an efficient brain work-out, building up higher levels of what is known as ‘cognitive reserve’, leading to a healthy and active mind.
What’s more, the stimulating effects of language are not confined to those who learnt their second language in early life, nor those who have mastered their language perfectly. Rather, directed language learning has been shown to positively effect mental performance and ability after just oneweek. Therefore, regardless of your age, ability, or diagnosis, the power of language learning can have a positive impact on your life.
Energised by this research, we at Lingo Flamingo have developed a colourful array of language classes for older individuals.
One variation of our classes is a language learning experience for those living with dementia. These leisurely classes take into account the medical, physical, and mental health of learners in order to employ the senses, keep the brain active, build confidence, and foster connections between participants. We've worked with individuals at all stages of dementia diagnosis, and 90% of our students say they loved the classes and felt an increased sense of confidence and self-worth.
Further to this, we have developed a bespoke basket of classes for those over 65 who embrace life long learning and who are seeking new, enriching experiences in retirement. These research-powered classes offer a unique way for individuals to get back into learning, build confidence, exercise the mind and, most importantly, to have fun whilst doing it. As we say, our classes are good for the brain and good for the banter.
If this is something you, or someone you know, would be interested in then contact us here to book you free, no obligation taster class.