Health Benefits of Being a Grandparent
Studies show several advantages
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Research in several recent studies shows that caring for grandchildren can have proven health benefits — including helping stave off depression, boosting social connections and keeping older adults mentally sharp.
Emotional closeness — or “affinity” — between young grandchildren and their grandparents protects against depression for both, according to a June 2016 study from Boston University’s Department of Sociology. The study, which used data from a long-term survey of families spanning several generations between 1985 and 2004, suggests that when young adults and their elders enjoy strong relationships, both suffer fewer symptoms of depression.
Spending quality time with grandchildren while they are young improves mental health in elders, too, according to a 2014 study from the Journal of the American Gerontological Society. It linked having more bonding moments to a lower risk of depression among grandparents.
The Berlin Aging Study, consisting of data from 500 seniors, shows that those who babysat for grandchildren in a noncustodial setting lived longer — and it didn’t matter whether the grandchildren were their own or someone else’s. However, it should be noted that while taking care of kids may keep older adults physically active and help relieve stress, overdoing this can cross a line and cancel out those health benefits, according to the Berlin Aging Study.
Spending time with loving and supportive grandparents is also beneficial for children, according to the studies, because it provides them with extra stability and emotional support.
Learn moreabout these studies by searching “grandparent caregivers” at academic.oup.com/gerontologist.