Most grandparents express a sense of pride, love, and happiness when talking about their grandchildren. Today, scientists are discovering that a connection between a senior and his or her grandchildren might do more than simply provide feel-good emotions. It may also help grandma and grandpa live longer, avoid depression, and remain free from mental health diagnoses including Alzheimer’s.
A study in 2014 conducted by the Women’s Health Aging Project found that grandparents who helped their families by providing childcare at least one day a week scored highest in cognitive testing. Alzheimer’s care providers think this is likely due to the connection between social interaction and improved mental health as well as the fact that seniors maintain a valuable sense of purpose when they have a job to do or role to play within the family.
Interestingly, seniors who were regularly responsible for providing childcare to grandchildren five or more days per week experienced higher levels of stress and anxiety and stated they felt as if their children and grandchildren were demanding too much of them. The heightened responsibilities of providing full-time childcare can cause a grandparent to feel overextended and may even reduce the positive bond that a healthy relationship between seniors and their grandchildren typically promotes.
When grandparents live far from their grandchildren and are not readily available or healthy enough to assist with childcare, healthy bonds can still exist. With the Internet and social media, staying in touch is easier than ever. Recent research shows some benefits when inter-generational relationships are maintained through the use of technology and draws a connection between the use of technology and healthy aging.
The takeaway from this information is that grandchildren should make the effort to spend time and keep in touch with their grandparents. Those who do often find that their senior loved ones are happier, healthier, and enjoy the most productive lives.
Not all seniors are able to enjoy the social component of spending time with grandchildren, especially if a senior’s grandchildren live far away. To ensure your senior loved one is getting a healthy dose of social stimulation, reach out to Jefferson County Home Care Assistance. In addition to providing mental stimulation and companionship, our compassionate caregivers can also help with everyday tasks. Call us today at (303) 987-5992 to learn more.