How spending time with grandkids can help grandparents stay healthy, happy, and sharp.
There's now scientific evidence that suggests kids spending time with their grandparents is good for their health.
After waking up to rooster crows and being treated to pancakes made from scratch, my grandmother would help me get dressed for our mini-adventures around town.
Some of my fondest memories are of that time spent out and about with my grandmother in Nogales, Mexico. Little did I know at the time, there were great health benefits to our time spent together, too.
Listen up, parents! Now there's scientific evidence suggesting quality time with the grandkids has incredible health benefits for both grandma and grandpa.
For the first time ever, researchers looked at how grandparenting has an effect on cognition. The study — conducted by The Women's Healthy Aging Project in Australia — observed 186 grandmothers who took care of their grandkids. The results were both surprising and awesome.
The study found that grandmothers who spent one day a week looking after their grandkids were more likely to offset dementia and had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's. Apparently, keeping up with the kiddos and answering their sometimes endless questions helps keep their memory sharp by increasing their brain function. Way to go, kids!
The study also found that a healthy grandparent-grandkid relationship helps prevent social isolation, which can lead to depression and sometimes even an earlier death. So by spending more time with grandma or grandpa, you're actually helping to keep them sharp, healthy, happy, and maybe even extending their life.
There's also good news for grandkids.
Initial data from the Institute on Aging at Boston College show that a strong grandchild-grandparent bond can offset depressive tendencies for both parties.
The study, which observed 376 grandparents and 340 kids over a span of 19 years (from 1985 to 2004), found that the closer the grandparent-child relationship was, the less likely either was to experience depression. If that's not a major incentive to spend more quality time with Gramps, I don't know what is.
There is one drawback cited in this most recent study that could prove to be convenient when grandma doesn't want to commit to long-term babysitting.
While it's beneficial for grandparents to care for their grandkids one day a week, it's not beneficial to their health to watch them for five days or more per week. Researchers found hanging out with the rug rats too much may affect their grandparent's memory and their ability to process information faster, leading to lower cognition.
While most of us adore our grandparents, it's important we know how our interactions affect their health. While we may feel like we have all the energy in the world, they may not. We should be informed about how much time with the kids is OK and when it's best to relieve them of their grandparenting duties.
Fostering a fulfilling relationship between kids and their grandparents is a beautiful thing. Who better to teach kids about themselves and their family history? This relationship is crucial.
This study offers a win-win situation for parents who want their kids to build lasting, meaningful relationships with their grandparents. Hey, it could also be a great excuse for finally having that date night!
So parents, feel free to ask grandma and grandpa to watch the kids — and to feel good about it — because you're also helping to keep them sharp and healthy. But remember that, like in most things in life, everything is best in moderation.