If you're generous enough to be one of those amazing grandparents who babysit their grandkids — or like me, you're lucky enough to have parents who help care for your kids — we have great news for you and your family: A 2017 study found that grandparents who babysat kids lived longer lives. Three cheers for Nana and Gramps popping over to help out, right?
If you're not a grandma yet, don't worry: The data in the Berlin Aging Study, collected from 500 seniors and published in Evolution and Human Behavior, found that it didn't matter if it was seniors' own grandkids or not. Those 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.
“We know that as you age, you want to stay physically active; you want to stay socially engaged; you want to be cognitively stimulated; and all those things allow you to age well,” Ronan Factora, MD of the Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study, told ABC7 News.
Though further research is needed to figure out what causes the increased life expectancy for these aging caregivers, the researchers offer a number of explanations: Spending time with grandchildren is a good way for older people to have a sense of purpose, while keeping them physically and mentally active.
Problems With Grandparents Babysitting
We just knew there was a positive benefit to this whole 'babysitting the grandkids' thing, but it sure is nice to have science back us up! But don't lose sight of an important tip: It's smart not to overdo it, or babysitting your grandchildren can become a burden instead of a health benefit.
“You want to make sure that you find that right balance where you are doing what you can to stay active, doing good for the folks that you’re helping out with, but don’t do too much where you get to the point where you’re overly stressed,” Dr. Factora says.
It makes sense — and after all, isn't that the beauty of being a grandparent? You get to spend quality time with the little ones... and then you get to leave. It's all the fun of parenting, with plenty of breaks!