Here’s some health news that doesn’t make the front page very often: the benefits of grand-parenting. Yes, it’s true — at least according to researchers in the U.K. It seems that grand-parenting could boost the mental health of seniors in some very specific ways.
The London research team conducted a study in Chile. They wanted to investigate if, and how, being a grandparent to grandchildren could improve mental well- being. Two thousand people aged 66-68 participated in the clinical trial. All the participants were from low- or middle- income areas of Santiago. The researchers conducted surveys in 2005 and re-interviewed the grandparents two years later.
From the survey information, the researchers were able to determine associations between providing grand-parenting help and life satisfaction. In particular, they looked at mental health, grandchild well-being, marital and household satisfaction, socio-economic status, and physical health. Here’s what they found:
– 41% of grandparents lived with one or more grandchildren
– Over half of these grandparents provided four or more hours per week of help to grandchildren
– Grandfathers who provided four or more hours per week of help to grandchildren had better life satisfaction two years into the study
– Grandmothers providing four or more hours of help a week had lower risks of depression The researchers concluded that older adults make important contributions to their families through helping to care for grandchildren and this help means benefits for their own psychosocial health. So here’s some unique health advice: offer to care for the grandkids at least one afternoon a week. It should be good for your mental health and well-being. Looking after grandkids can connect you to the world in a special way. And these benefits can work both ways: when you are focused on giving attention to a grandchild, caring for them and watching them grow and develop, not only are you boosting your own mental health, but you’re also improving the self-confidence and well-being of a child. It’s a win-win situation. Older adults often become isolated and sometimes feel as if the world has left them behind or forgotten about them. Connecting with grandchildren can keep these feelings at bay and make you realize that you have something very valuable to offer a young life.
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