We often hear people complaining about this time where everything goes fast, where family ties are loosened, where families only see each other twice a year in the best of cases, at Christmas and Easter… Certainly, children grow up and go further and further away, but sometimes it is the parents and grandparents who take distance to enjoy their life. According to a recent survey by Opinion Way, 70% of grandparents consider that taking care of their grandchildren temporarily or permanently is a chore and they would rather see them in pictures! However, it turns out that it is a real loss for these families because keeping and caring for grandchildren would have a beneficial effect on the health of grandparents. This is the result of the “Berlin Aging Study”, whose conclusion states that “looking after young children could have a positive impact on the health of the elderly” and when it comes to grandchildren, the effect is even greater for each member of the family.
The study involved 500 elderly people (70 years and older), spanned 10 years and showed that those who cared for their grandchildren had a higher life expectancy compared to those who did not.
According to this study, babysitting and caring for grandchildren has several benefits. It is an activity that preserves cognitive functions (memory, concentration, logic…), reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, fights against stress and depression of the elderly. Looking after grandchildren is physically and mentally stimulating and keeps them active and alert.
Grandparents, despite being retired, are thus “socially engaged” and continue to be in contact with the world (other families, school…) by caring for their grandchildren. This has very positive effects on health and has an impact on longevity, whereas elderly, isolated and lonely people are vulnerable and have more fragile health.
To summarize, looking after grandchildren allows one to remain physically, mentally and socially active. We observe a reduction in stress, anxiety and the risk of depression and preservation of memory.
On the other hand, children are the big winners in this process. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut has shown that conversations with grandparents have beneficial effects on their language and brain development. However, it is important to respect each other’s limits: the grandparent should not exhaust himself or herself because the fatigue, physical and mental load and stress of caring for a child can have the opposite effect. The right balance must be found so that this beneficial activity does not become a chore or a burden.
In this way, the family bond is preserved, grandparents are not isolated and maintain good health. In addition, the grandchildren benefit from all the knowledge, attention and love their grandparents bring, and their parents enjoy a moment of tranquility.