Researchers studied 983 adults 65 and older with four or fewer years of schooling. Ninety percent were immigrants from the Dominican Republic, where there were limited opportunities for schooling. Many had learned to read outside of school, but 237 could not read or write.
Over an average of three and a half years, the participants periodically took tests of memory, language and reasoning.
Illiterate men and women were 2.65 times as likely as the literate to have dementia at the start of the study, and twice as likely to have developed it by the end. Illiterate people, however, did not show a faster rate of decline in skills than those who could read and write.
“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.