CHICAGO (CBS) — Want your parents to live longer? Let them babysit your kids, study suggests.
According to a new study, published in Evolution and Human Behavior, grandparents who watch their grandchildren live significantly longer lives.
The study examined data from the Berlin Aging Study from over 500 seniors aged 70 and older. Grandparents who were primary caregivers for grandchildren were not included in the study.
The data found that seniors who provided some care, whether for their grandchildren or for others, had a lower risk of death over a 20 year period than those who did not help others. The mortality hazards for grandparents who provided non-custodial childcare were 37 percent lower than for grandparents who did not provide childcare and for non-grandparents.
“There is a link between providing this care and reducing stress and we know the relationship between stress and higher risk of dying,” said Dr. Ronan Factora, a Geriatric Medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, via clevelandclinic.org, “If providing care to grandchildren and others in need is one way that can actually reduce stress, then these activities should be of benefit to folks who are grandparents and provide this care to their grandkids.”
But overdoing it can have a negative outcome.
“You want to make sure that you find that right balance between getting the positive benefits of doing enough of an activity to help those in need and avoiding doing too much and getting to the point where the activity makes one overly stressed,” Dr. Factora said.
Dr. Factora said another benefit for seniors who provide care is the social interaction that it provides, which is key to keeping the brain healthy.
Reader’s Digest released a list of 8 Amazing Ways Being a Grandparent Does Wonders for Your Health, including staying sharp, staying active, lowing the risk of depression, staying social, and more.
Again, it does not matter if it’s your own grandkids or someone else’s – the act of caring for another holds many health benefits.