Spending Time with Grandchildren May Help You Liver Longer
As a grandparent, you love spending time with your grandchildren. But did you know that taking care of your grandchildren may actually help you live longer?
That was the finding of 2017 Berlin research study, which examined 500 adults age 70. The study determined that grandparents who babysat their grandchildren had a 37% lower mortality risk than adults of the same age who did not provide care for other people. In fact, they also found similar effects on participants who helped support their adult children and others in their social network who needed assistance.
While the researchers could not say the exact reasons why the death rate was so much lower, the thought is that taking care of grandkids or helping others keeps seniors physically active and relieves stress. These ideas are backed up by several additional research studies, which determined that spending time with grandchildren has numerous health benefits.
Here are some of the biggest advantages of spending time with grandchildren:
- Positively affects verbal fluency. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Marriage and the Family found that taking care of grandchildren positively impacted verbal fluency. One of the first things doctors look at when testing for the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s, verbal fluency refers to the cognitive function of being able to retrieve information from memory. Testing for verbal fluency in seniors typically involves asking them to name as many items in a set category (e.g., types of fruits, types of sports) in a given amount of time.
- Improves cognitive performance. A study at the US National Library of Medicine found that postmenopausal women who took care of their grandkids one day a week had the highest cognitive performance among their peers.
- Reduces depression. A 2016 Boston University study found that both grandparents and grandchildren who have a strong relationship with each other suffered fewer depression symptoms.
- Boosts energy. Keeping up with grandkids gives grandparents little choice than to be more active, and that in turn boosts their overall energy levels. Moving more also helps decrease chronic pain, can delay or even prevent certain diseases, and makes recovery faster from illness or injury.
- Improves physical health. Staying socially engaged with others, including grandkids, helps prevent the feeling of isolation. This not only improves mental well-being, but it can also have physical benefits. A 2012 British study found that socially isolated seniors were 26% more likely to die over the 8-year course of the study than those with the most active social lives. Staying socially active also helps seniors eat better, boosts immune systems, and improves sleep.
While spending time with grandchildren has many health benefits, in some cases, grandkids can be too much of a good thing. Studies have found that grandparents who watch their grandkids five days a week or who actually raise their grandkids full-time had more stress and increased health issues. When it comes to grandkids, there has to be a balance that allows seniors to stay active but not overdo it.
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