There is nothing like children to keep older adults active and happy. A recent study shows that grandparents caring for their grandchildren can actually prevent Alzheimer’s disease by increasing brain function and memory . [¹‚²]

In addition to increasing the capacity of the brain as young as possible, childcare has been linked to decreased rates of depression . Here’s some more information on the correlation between babysitting grandparents and mental health, along with some great ideas for activities to do together.

How Caring for Grandchildren May Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Researchers from the Women’s Health Aging Project in Australia  first looked at how caring for grandchildren could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by looking at the cognitive function of more than 180 women caring for their grandchildren. [¹]

The results showed that postmenopausal women who spend one day a week in the company of their grandchildren may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive disorders and other problems such as dementia. However, those who spend five days a week or more caring for young children may be at higher risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders.

This was the first study to examine the role of grandparents in cognition. While the reason for the correlation is unclear, it is believed that regular social interaction can have a positive effect on the mental health of older people and reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s. Caring for grandchildren can help prevent social isolation that can lead to depression and even earlier death.

In addition to preventing Alzheimer’s and avoiding social isolation, other research suggests that a strong bond between grandchildren and grandparents has antidepressant benefits for both older people and children. A study by the Boston College Institute on Aging looked at the habits of 376 grandparents and 340 children for 19 years.

They found that the closer the relationship between the two, the less likely they were to develop depression, and that the giving and receiving grandparents had the fewest symptoms of depression.

For young people, hanging out with their grandparents can not only improve their mood – research suggests it can also provide psychological benefits.

10 activities for grandparents and grandchildren

The age gap between grandchildren and grandparents doesn’t have to be a barrier to having fun and spending time together.

Here are some fun and family-friendly activities for all ages:

  1. Have tea and share some thoughts on a recent movie or book you have read.
  2. Camp in the backyard and spend an evening full of anecdotes.
  3. Create a family tree together.
  4. Go shopping together and get to know each other’s tastes better.
  5. Go for a nature walk.
  6. Play a card game.
  7. Start a book club at home.
  8. Create a vertical garden or growing place together in the yard of Grandpa or Grandma’s house.
  9. Take a trip together when possible.
  10. Teach grandchildren their favorite hobby, be it carpentry, drawing, painting, fine arts, music, etc.

Sharing quality time with grandparents is essential, regardless of the activities that are carried out, the essential thing is to spend good times without haste and with attention to what they do together, this is not only beneficial against Alzheimer’s disease, but also to maintain strong ties that will last for a lifetime of grandchildren.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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