Scientists confirm: Babysitting your grandchildren improves your life expectancy

If any of you parents out there feel a slight tinge of guilt when you ask your parents to babysit, feel guilty no more.

Apparently, grandparents who babysit their grandkids live longer, according to a recent study.

The study, of more than 500 people aged 70 and older, showed that those grandparents who helped care for others lived at least seven years longer.

The peer-reviewed study was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

People who didn’t care for others had an average life expectancy of only four years after the study ended. Half of the grandparents in the study who babysat their grandchildren were alive ten years after the initial study interview.

Research suggests that giving older people a purpose keeps them active.

‘Survival of the species’

According to Sonja Hilbrand, one of the authors of the study and a doctoral student in the department of psychology at the University of Basel in Switzerland, “This link could be a mechanism deeply rooted in our evolutionary past when help with childcare was crucial for the survival of the species.”

People who have no contact with the grandchildren can see their health actually negatively impacted, Hilbrand added.

Helping your adult children in some way also helps you to live longer, the study showed. So the feeling of knowing that you’re needed therefore giving you a purpose is beneficial to our health as we get older.

Bruno Arpino, associate professor at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University, said it can help to keep seniors mentally and physically active.

“Caregiving may give caregivers a purpose of life because caregivers may feel useful for the others and for the society,” he said. “Caregiving may be thought also as an activity that (keeps) caregivers physically and mentally active.”

Mental health

He added that previous studies showed that caregiving seems to improve cognitive functioning, as well as physical and mental health.

This study did not include grandparents who have full-time custody of their grandchildren. That is actually detrimental for elderly people, according to the study.

Find out more about why you should share your kids with their grandparents as often as you can in the video below.

Please share this story with all the parents and grandparents you know. Babysitting is good for your health!

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