There’s nothing like grandchildren to keep older adults active and joyful. A recent study shows that spending a moderate amount of time with grandkids may actually prevent Alzheimer’s disease by increasing brain function and memory.
In addition to boosting brain power, babysitting has been linked to decreased rates of depression. Learn more about the correlation between babysitting and senior health and get some ideas on fun things to do with your grandchildren.
How Babysitting Grandchildren Could Lower Risk for Alzheimer’s
Researchers from the Women’s Health Aging Project in Australia observed the cognitive function of over 180 women who cared for grandchildren. The results showed that postmenopausal women who spend one day a week caring for their grandchildren may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders. However, those that spend five days a week or more caring for little ones may have a higher risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders.
This is the first study to examine the role of grandparenting on cognition. While the reason for the correlation is not clear, it is thought that regular social interaction can have a positive effect on the mental health of seniors and lower their risk for Alzheimer’s. Caring for grandchildren can help to prevent the social isolation that can cause depression, and even an earlier death.
In addition to preventing Alzheimer’s and avoiding social isolation, other research suggests that a strong grandchild and grandparent bond has anti-depressive benefits for both seniors and children. A study from the Institute on Aging at Boston College observed the habits of 376 grandparents and 340 children for 19 years. They found that the closer the relationship between the two, the less likely either were to develop depression and that grandparents who both gave and received support had the fewest symptoms of depression.
10 Fun Activities To Do with Grandchildren
The age gap between grandchild and grandparent does not have to be a barrier to having fun and spending time with each other.
Here are some fun activities for all ages to do together:
- Bring out the good china and have a tea party.
- Camp in your own backyard.
- Create a family tree together.
- Go to a local farmer’s market and make a pie with your fresh fruit.
- Go on a nature walk.
- Play a card game.
- Start a book club.
- Start a journal where you write letters to each other.
- Take a trip to the local zoo.
- Teach your grandchild one of your favorite hobbies (crocheting, woodworking, etc.)
What are some of your favorite things to do with your grandchildren? Share how you lower your risk for Alzheimer’s and stay young at heart, in the comments below.
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