A research led by Berlin Aging Study that involved 500 senior volunteers showed a remarkable longevity in their life span if they babysat their grandkids.
How wonderful is the transition from being a parent to a grandparent? Gone are those inexperienced days when you hardly knew what to do when your baby cried or threw a tantrum, becoming a grandparent certainly has its perks. Finally, you're not the bad guy anymore and your grandkids love you more than anything! The best part about this whole experience has to be the time you spend with them. Reading stories to them, playing games, and nurturing them as they grow up makes you happy about the fact that you're able to shape their life in some way or the other in the limited time span you share with each other.
But if you get to spend more time with your tiny tots you might be healthier as you age says studies. Yes, you heard us right! So, the next time you go out on a date, consider leaving your children with their grandparents. According to a research led by the Berlin Aging Study, 500 seniors aged 70 or above in the former West Berlin showed remarkable longevity in their life span if they babysat their grandkids or someone else's kids compared to the ones who did not have any interaction with children reports ABC News 7.
First, the participants of this study were divided into three categories namely caregiving grandparents, non-caregiving grandparents, and non-grandparents. Each one of these volunteers had to undergo several medical tests and interviews which were held between a two-year interval between 1990 and 2009 reports NHS UK. Each individual was asked about the amount of time they had spent looking after their grandkids (caregiving) in the absence of the parents for the last 12 months.
Based on the findings, the researchers were able to conclude that the caregiving grandparents had a 37 percent chance of living longer than the other categories which include non-caregiving grandparents and non-grandparents. On the other hand, they hardly found any difference between the life span of non-grandparents and non-caregiving grandparents. While the study couldn't exactly pinpoint the particular reason that caused an increase in life expectancy, it did, however, find that having a purpose keeps seniors mentally and physically active.
Elaborating on this idea further, Ralph Hertwig, the director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development said, "Helping shouldn't be misunderstood as a panacea for a longer life. A moderate level of caregiving involvement does seem to have positive effects on health. But previous studies have shown that more intense involvement causes stress, which has negative effects on physical and mental health."
The question that remained to be seen was if non-grandparents who had no grandkids could possibly increase the longevity. The study provided an insight into this matter as well. According to this report, the seniors who were still actively invested in helping out their adult children had lowered their risk of mortality by 57 percent compared to those who didn't. They also had a solution for old people who didn't have children of their own. If seniors were willing to support others through volunteering or even help a friend out in some way, it could possibly improve their health risks.
In addition to helping seniors have a longer life span, the study also showed it could actually be very beneficial for the grandchildren by providing them with emotional support and stability. The study also revealed that such activities involving kids actually kept the seniors physically active and lowered their stress level.
However, it warns seniors from overdoing it because if it exceeds the maximum level of exhaustion, it could easily negate these health benefits. An expert in the subject, Dr. Ronan Factora from the Cleveland Clinic, advised maintaining a proper balance in every activity. "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," she said.