Keep your memory: Education can delay dementia



As you get older, you might laugh about the occasional senior moment when you have trouble remembering a name or date. But, real dementia is no laughing matter. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than an estimated 35 million people across the globe suffer from some form of dementia. By 2050 that number is expected to triple. In some cases, people with dementia are treated unfairly and denied their basic human rights, according to the WHO.

Although a study published in 2010 in \”Brain: A Journal of Neurology\” noted that almost everyone has some negative changes in their brain at death, not everyone develops dementia and it isn\’t a natural part of aging. Being a life-long learner can help you delay the development of dementia.

Learn a New Language

A study published in \”Neurology\” in November 2013 found that patients who spoke two languages had a delayed dementia onset. The study looked at 648 patients. Nearly 400 of the patients spoke at least two languages. According to the findings, the bilingual patients developed dementia about 4 1/2 years after the people who spoke a single language.

As an adult, you have a few options if you want to learn a new language. You can work independently, from the comfort of your home, with language learning software such as Rosetta Stone. If you don\’t think you have the discipline to stick with an independent course, you can sign up for language instruction at a language school such as Berlitz. Some cultural societies, such as the Alliance Francaise, also offer language classes for adults of varying levels.

Take an Online Course

If learning another language isn\’t your cup of tea, there are other ways to delay the onset of dementia. A 2011 study published in \”Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders\” reviewed 71 past studies that each examined the role education played in the delay of dementia. Nearly 60 percent of the studies reviewed showed a connection between developing dementia and having less education.

Even if you never finished college, it\’s not too late to further your education and help your mind stay sharp. Online courses and degree programs make it easier for you to fit school into your busy life. A site such as CollegeOnline LLC can help you find online schools, degree programs and give you information on financial aid.

You don\’t have to necessarily go back to college to further your education. Sign up for a class at your local community center. If you\’ve always wanted to learn to draw, take a drawing class at a local art center, for example.

Join a Social Club

Lifetime learning often goes hand-in-hand with being social, and being social can help slow the development of dementia or memory loss, according to a 2008 study published in the \”American Journal of Public Health.\” As you get older, it\’s important to remain in contact with your family and friends for the sake of your mental health and overall well-being.

If you want to become more social or meet new people, look for social clubs that are forming in your area. A site such as Meetup is a great way to find like-minded people who enjoy the same activities you do. You can find a book club, gardening group or club for cooking enthusiasts. You also have the option of starting your own group if you can\’t find one in your area that fits your interests.

Author Bio: Kelli is retired teacher from Maine who blogs about the current state of education.