Most parents appreciate it when their parents help care for their grandkids – it gives them some free time and it saves them the hassle of hiring a babysitter. A lot of grandparents also love taking care of their grandkids which is why it’s usually a win-win situation. If that isn’t enticing enough, there is also a scientific reason why seniors should babysit their grandkids.
A recent peer-reviewed study by the Journal Evolution and Human Behavior in Berlin determined that grandparents who babysit their grandchildren tend to live significantly longer than those who don’t (1). The study was done with over 500 people of 70+ years of age and it reached some very definitive conclusions.
Seniors who helped care for their grandkids had a whopping 37% lower mortality risk than adults of the same age who have no “caring responsibilities.”
Why Grandparents Who Babysit Live Longer
While science can’t with 100% accuracy explain why grandparents that babysit live longer, they do have a pretty good idea.
The researchers believe that caregiving brings purpose to seniors and makes them more active and driven, which is vital at their age. One of the authors of the study, Sonja Hilbrand, a doctoral student in the department of psychology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, noted that (2):
“This link could be a mechanism deeply rooted in our evolutionary past when help with childcare was crucial for the survival of the human species.”
The study involved medical tests and period interviews with the participants every two years between 1990 and 2009. It should be noted that the study was only focused on periodic babysitters and caregivers and not people who were looking after their grandchildren full-time.
Another researcher, Bruno Arpino, an associate professor at the Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, said that:
“Caregiving may give caregivers a purpose in life because caregivers may feel useful for the others and for the society. Caregiving may be thought also as an activity that (keeps) caregivers physically and mentally active.”