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Live longer, share time with your grandkids

Anyone who has grandchildren knows that feeling of lavishing them with love and attention. Want ice cream? Sure. Go to the movies? Of course.

After all, who doesn’t love spending time with their grandchildren? They provide hours of happiness and, if they become a little cranky, well, that’s when mom and dad can take over.

But did you know that beyond the happiness you get from sharing time with them, your grandchildren may actually help you live a healthier life? Studies show that seniors who provide some form of care to their grandchildren may live longer than seniors who do not.

Why? Because we are often more active, mentally sharper, feel less isolated and experience less depression when energetic grandkids are running around. There have even been reported benefits for childless seniors who provide caregiving to children who are not related to them.

And don’t let the age gap get in the way of having fun with your grandchildren. Go for a nature walk, take a trip to the local farmer’s market, play a card game or share one of your favorite hobbies, such as crocheting or woodworking. You’ll be surprised at how gladly the kids will share in your interests.

Tossing a ball in the backyard or flying a kite at the beach will keep you physically active, but you don’t have to overdo it. There are also plenty of ways to spend time with your grandchildren that sharpen your cognitive skills, for instance puzzles or a word search.

Studies promoted by have shown that babysitting grandchildren may actually prevent Alzheimer’s disease by increasing brain function and memory. Let’s face it, you’ve got to be on top of your game when the little ones are running around, asking questions or looking to play board games!

Recalling the happy memories in your life with a grandchild is also a great way to share the history of your family, while keeping your mind active and mood upbeat. Your grandchildren will not only carry on that history to someday share with their grandchildren, but will have their own happy memories of you to add.

So, next time you’re asked to babysit or spend time with your grandchildren, you’re not just helping out their parents… you may be improving your own health!

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