Language Learning and Dementia: What the Research Says

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. 

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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.