For seniors who have grandchildren, it’s always exciting to spend a day with the grandkids. It may also excite you to know that spending time with your grandchildren also comes with several health benefits. Here are just a few of the ways that having grandchildren can help you live a longer, happier life.
1. Lowered Risk of Depression
Studies have shown that grandparents who have a close emotional bond with their grandchildren are less likely to suffer from depression and similar mood disorders than seniors who do not have grandchildren. In fact, when young children and their senior loved ones interact frequently by sharing stories and important life moments, both groups benefit from the relationship.
2. Improved Cognitive Health
Along with an improved mood and better mental health, spending time with grandchildren has also been shown to lower a senior’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, one study found that senior women who spent one day a week caring for their grandchildren scored the highest on cognitive tests.
3. Increased Socialization
It should come as no surprise that spending time with the grandkids increases a senior’s socialization. Many seniors live alone, have medical issues, or cannot drive. Because of these life changes, these seniors cannot get out of the house as much as they once did; there are several seniors who do not have the means or the ability to see people daily. Taking the time to visit with your senior mom at her home is so very important to her health.
4. Longer Lifespan
One study, which used over 500 grandparent participants between the ages of 70 and 103, looked at the interaction between grandparents and grandchildren. This study found that the seniors who had occasional interaction with their grandchildren were more likely to be alive within the next five years than participants in the study who did not have or interact with their grandchildren.
5. Benefits for Non-Grandparents
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have grandchildren though. Childless senior adults who socialize with other people’s grandchildren and family members can extend their lives and increase their health as well. Through these interactions, they can avoid isolation and decrease their risk of depression. If you know a senior who lives nearby who has few family members, consider visiting them a few times a week. Take them meals, or books, or any other cozy item you can think of. A little bit of attention and care can go a long way.