If you’re in your golden years, chances are you love spending time with your grandchildren. But did you ever stop and think that spending time with them is also good for your aging mind and body?
Past research from the Institute on Aging at Boston College has indicated that a healthy bond between grandparent and grandchild may lower the risk of depression for both parties (1). The study followed 340 children and 376 of their grandparents for nearly 20 years. The results indicated that the stronger the bond, the less likely grandparents were to suffer from depression.
Of course, there’s already a substantial body of research which indicates that social interaction can boost longevity and improve overall health (2).
But recently, another study has come forward to indicate the positive effects of babysitting for grandparents, and this time, the results are surprising.
Part-Time Babysitters Is Good, Not Full-Time
Researchers from the Women’s Healthy Aging Project in Australia carried out the study, which followed 186 postmenopausal Australian women who cared for their grandchildren on a regular basis.
Related: 9 Key Lifestyle Changes for Preventing Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Results showed that women who cared for their grandchildren once a week had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other neurodegenerative disorders. Conversely, grandmothers who spent five or more days per week caring for little ones were actually at an increased risk of developing cognition disorders (3).
As one of the first studies to examine the role of caring for grandchildren on grandparents’ cognitive abilities, additional research is needed to clarify the connection between the time spent caring for, and negative or positive effects. While it seems as though social interaction is good for seniors, it may be that too much responsibility to care for grandchildren puts a strain on grandparents.
A previous study, conducted by Case Western Reserve University, followed 240 grandmothers who cared for their grandchildren in different capacities. The results indicated that grandmothers who care for their grandchildren full-time need support to avoid depression (4).
10 Activities To Do With Your Grandchildren
The generation gap between grandparents and grandchildren doesn’t have to be an obstacle to spending quality time together, and having fun while you’re at it. The following activities are some of the easiest ways for you to have fun with your grandchildren:
- Play cards.
- Create a family tree using old photographs.
- Share your favorite pastime (e.g. woodworking, knitting) with your grandchild.
- Go camping right in your own backyard.
- Set up a pretend store in your basement.
- Coloring books
- Write letters to each other.
- Go for a walk outside and make a list of the birds, plants, and animals you see.
- Go to a nearby zoo or aquarium.
- Play dress-up.
What activities do you enjoy doing with your grandchildren? What keeps you young at heart?