Taking care of your grandchildren is more than a fun and rewarding way to spend your time—it's also been shown to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
In a study conducted by the Women's Health Aging Project in Australia and published in the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) in 2014, researchers studied the cognitive function of more than 180 women, ages 57 to 68, who cared for their grandchildren regularly. The women took three different mental acuity tests during the study to measure working memory and mental processing speed.
The results of these tests showed researchers that the women who spent one day per week taking care of their grandchildren may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's and related cognitive disorders. Researchers also found that women who babysat their grandkids five or more days per week could actually have a higher risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders, as they did significantly worse on the tests.
Researcher's don't know the exact reason for the link between Alzheimer's and babysitting, but they think it may have something to do with social interaction. Some believe that taking care of grandchildren helps reduce social isolation among mature women, which can help prevent depression and related health issues.
Besides helping to prevent Alzheimer's, taking care of grandchildren regularly can also help prevent depression and other mood disorders. One study conducted at the Institute on Aging at Boston College followed 376 grandparents and 340 grandchildren for 19 years. They concluded that the stronger the grandchild-grandparent relationship, the less likely the chances of developing depression.
Taking care of your grandchildren is a great way to stay mentally sharp and promote healthy aging. Another easy way to be proactive about your health is to get regular preventive health screenings. To learn more about which health screenings may be right for you, take our quick online health assessment here.