Last Updated: October 26, 2018
There’s nothing like children to keep older adults active and joyful. A recent study shows that babysitting grandchildren 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 grandchildren and a grandparent’s health and see some great ideas on activities to do together.
Researchers from the Women’s Health Aging Project in Australia first observed how babysitting grandchildren could lower the risk for Alzheimer’s when viewing the cognitive function of over 180 women who cared for their 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 was 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.
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, family-friendly activities for all ages:
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.