Grandparents Who Babysit Grandkids Live Longer, Scientists Confirm
Carl FombyPublished in January 2020 / Updated in January 2021
If any of you out there feel a slight tinge of guilt whenever you ask your parents to babysit your kids, feel guilty no more.
Apparently, grandparents who often babysit their grandchildren live longer than those who don’t, according to a study.
Many of us have tender memories of the time we spent with our grandparents. They were always there for us, to share their wisdom and to give hugs and kisses.
Looking back at those childhood years, grandparents always had lots of wonderful stories about life. The moments we shared will never fade away.
And it’s so good to know that our grandparents reap a great benefit from their interactions with us too.
According to a recent study, grandparents who care for grandkids have a 37% lower mortality risk than adults of the same age without any caregiving responsibilities.
During the study, experts tracked the health outcomes from over 500 people, all aged 70 years and above, who took part in the Berlin Aging Study for 20 years.
The peer-reviewed research was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, and it concluded that those grandparents who helped care for grandkids lived at least seven years longer.
The study added that those who didn’t care for others had an average life expectancy of only four years after the study ended.
Half of the grandparents, who participated in the study and babysat their grandchildren were still alive 10 years after the initial research.
According to researchers, giving senior people purpose and responsibilities makes them active.
Sonja Hilbrand, one of the authors of the study and a doctoral student in the department of psychology at the University of Basel in Switzerland, noted:
“This link could be a mechanism deeply rooted in our evolutionary past when help with childcare was crucial for the survival of the species.”
The study also showed that assisting your adult children in any way helps you to live longer. So, having the feeling that you’re needed gives you a purpose, and it’s beneficial to your health as you grow older.
Dr. Ronan Factora of the Cleveland Clinic, who wasn’t involved in the study, also noted:
“There is a link between providing this care and reducing stress. If providing this care to [grandkids] and others…is one way that we can actually reduce stress, then these activities should be of benefit to folks who are grandparents and provide this care.”
Dr. Factora added:
“As you age, you want to stay physically active. You want to stay socially engaged. You want to be cognitively stimulated; all those things allow you to age well.”
“You want to make sure that you find that right balance where you are doing what you can to stay active, doing good for the folks that you’re helping out with, but don’t do too much where you get to the point where you’re overly stressed.”