Benefits Of Babysitting On A Grandparents’ Brain
Most grandparents love the joy that comes with being around their grandchildren. Not only does this time develop a meaningful relationship between them, spending time with grandchildren also helps keep our grandparents feeling young while providing many other cognitive benefits.
Maintains Brain Function
Studies show that babysitting grandchildren at least one day a week has enormous positive effects on elderly brain function. Kids are more active than adults, and that extra boost of activity not only keeps oxygen pumping and blood flowing, but grandparents who spend time with their grandkids tend to stay active even after their grandkids leave. They’re also likely to be more social, which we know keeps our brain healthy.
The regular interaction also keeps our brain active and alert thanks to having a schedule to maintain. When we retire, days can blur together and our sense of purpose can diminish. Studies show that individuals who stay busy well into retirement have better cognitive processing, improved memory, stronger vocabulary, and sharper reasoning skills than those who don’t stay busy.
When testing grandmothers who regularly watched one or more grandchildren once a week, researchers found that verbal fluency, immediate and delayed recall, numeracy skills, and overall memory were all higher than those who did not babysit. More studies show that these results as a whole also work to slow the type of cognitive decline that can lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Improves Psychological Health
In addition to grandchildren helping grandparents have better cognitive function, studies show that they also help strengthen overall emotional wellbeing as well. Being around active youngsters helps grandparents feel younger. They move more, use creative cognition, and are far more alert than those who had no interaction with grandchildren. But they also report feeling needed and valued which increased the overall feeling of independence and autonomy.
These psychological effects don’t diminish as grandchildren age either. Research shows that the bonds formed between grandparents and grandchildren in the early years develop into long-lasting adult bonds. In a study following grandparents and grandchildren across a span of nineteen years, researchers found those with close bonds had fewer instances of depression than those without. Even more surprising, these effects weren’t only found in the grandparents. The grandchildren were also less likely to develop depression in their childhood years or as they aged into adulthood.
This bond also helps both grandparents and grandchildren connect with their heritage. For grandparents, this helps them actively remember their past while it helps grandchildren develop a strong sense of identity that influences their self-esteem and confidence as they age. And grandparents that felt they were able to contribute to their grandchildren’s lives by providing tangible support as they grew up reported higher levels of satisfaction and happiness than those who didn’t.
Grandparents get as much emotional support from their grandchildren as they provide, which prevents loneliness from setting in. These regular, interactive exchanges often lead to better overall psychological help for both the grandchildren and the grandparents.
As our society ages, finding ways to keep our grandparents active and healthy is a growing concern. Having them spend time with their grandchildren can improve not just their overall brain health, but their physical and psychological health as well. In addition, since this bond shows enormous benefits for the grandchildren it’s a win all around.