Research Shows Grandmothers’ Brains Benefit from Babysitting

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When you’re a grandma, there aren’t many things better than spending time with your grandchildren. And, according to research, babysitting your grandchildren doesn’t just add joy to your life — it can also help keep you sharp as a tack in your golden years.

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Researched published in a 2014 edition of Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, showed that grandmothers who helped with childcare at least one day a week scored better on cognitive tests, leading researchers to conclude that spending time taking care of grandchildren could potentially lower one’s risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The study, conducted by the Women’s Healthy Aging Project in Australia, involved administering three different cognitive tests to a group of 186 post-menopausal women, 120 of them grandmothers.

The catch? The findings also revealed that too much babysitting can backfire. The grandmothers who babysat five or more times a week scored lower on the cognitive exams versus those who babysat just once a week. While the reason for the correlation is not clear cut, there is research to suggest that social interaction can help seniors stay mentally healthy. Even better, a different study showed that spending time with grandparents has health benefits for grandchildren, too, meaning that sending the kids grandma’s house once a week really is a win-win for everyone.

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