Next time you and your significant other need a sitter, call your parents and open with this:
“It’s not that we need a break. This is about your health.”
That’s right. According to a study out of Berlin, grandparents who babysit actually tend to live longer.
While most grandparents don’t need another reason to spend time with their grandchildren, the study finds some serious benefits for seniors who help take care of kids and even their adult children later in life.
The Berlin Aging Study confirms a growing sentiment in the scientific community that seniors who act as part-time caregivers can extend their years and even see benefits in areas such as cognitive function and general wellbeing.
Researchers found grandparent babysitters had a 37% lower mortality risk than seniors of the same age who had no caregiving responsibilities.
While the exact correlation is still being investigated, researchers believe spending time with grandchildren is a good way for older people to have a sense of purpose, while also keeping them physically and mentally active.
The study further suggests that even childless participants who helped others during their senior years may see similar benefits. According to the National Health Service, acts of giving and kindness, small and large, are associated with positive mental wellbeing.
NHS gives a few examples:
- Giving to others and co-operating with them can stimulate the reward areas in the brain, creating positive feelings.
- Helping and working with others can also give us a sense of purpose and feelings of self-worth.
- Giving our time to others in a constructive way helps us strengthen our relationships and build new ones.
Relationships with others also help mental wellbeing.
Although the results of the recent study are promising, researchers only followed around 500 participants – all hailing from one region in Germany. While that sample size is relatively small, it still provides some real evidence that a link exists between health and giving back.
So what are you waiting for?
Drop those kids off at mom and dad’s house. Plan a little trip. Go see the new Avengers.
After all, it’s not just about you – it’s for your parent’s health!