Benefits for the older learners.
I am in my late fifties.Learning a new language can help stem the onslaught of senile dementia.Further,remember that it is not the pace that matters but the direction that you go.
Unfortunately, there is little solid evidence demonstrating that rigorous mental activity, such as mastering a new language, helps delay or diminish dementia. As a language learner in my mid sixties, I wish it were true, but l'll continue to study languages anyway because I enjoy doing so.
It's inaccurate to suggest there's no evidence. While there is not irrefutable proof, there are strong indications that speaking multiple languages does indeed delay the onset of dementia.
In both papers cited, the researchers compared people who were already bilingual with those who were fluent in a single language. They did not assess the impact of actively learning a language at an advanced age (despite the enthusiastic headline on the New Scientist post). Other issues that weaken their conclusions can be found in the article below:
Very interesting, thank you very much for that corrective. I still think it's a bit too early to dismiss the possibility of multilingualism having any benefits at all in delaying the presentation of dementia symptoms, even in cases of the neuroanatomical presentation of the disease - the famous longitudinal Nun Study of aging showed examples of a gulf that can happen between the physical evidence of the highly advanced stage of disease on the brain in many patients and their abilities to function practically and relatively independently in the world - the study you linked to does seem to be right about self-diagnosis being flawed, but while the 'neuropsychological' methodology seems to me like an improvement, it's not entirely free from flaws itself.
In any case, I just hope there is a lot of further research, whichever conclusions it ends up supporting. And as you say, learning languages is enjoyable as an end in itself.
I agree with you wholeheartedly. Multilingualism may have some benefits, but the waters are still muddy at this point. It would be wonderful to discover what strategies could be most effective at various ages to promote brain health as long as possible. Maintaining functionality despite neuroanatomical deterioration is definitely a step in the right direction.
Good topic and thanks for the encouragement you've sent out with this post, but I think it would be a good post for the general duolingo discussion area (not just the Russian).