Study finds that babysitting your grandchildren makes you live longer

Researchers discovered that grandparents who babysit their grandchildren live longer. 

  • The study was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior and it looked at around 500 elderly people from Germany and Switzerland.
  • It found that those who babysat their grandchildren lived around 5 years longer than those who did not.
  • Author Ralph Hertwig notes that babysitting should be done in moderate levels as too much of it can cause stress and health issues.

Grandparents who babysit their grandchildren are at an advantage. 

A study looked at more than 500 people over the age of 70 and found that those who cared for others lived longer. Ralph Hertwig, the study author and the director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, explained that while there is extensive research on how babysitting affects grandchildren, there is insufficient research on how it affects grandparents. Speaking to CBS News, he commented:

Now, rather than only focusing on the potential benefits for grandchildren, we wanted to in addition ask whether there are tangible benefits to the donors, or the grandparents […] In other words, is caring a one-way street or not.

They found that there are numerous benefits which babysitters have.

The researchers analyzed data of over 500 people (ages 70-103) from Germany and Switzerland. This data was gathered from the Berlin Aging Study and was collected between 1990 and 2009. The study’s authors note that primary and custodial caregivers were not included in their research as instead, they wished to analyze the effect of regular, periodic babysitting. Grandparents who care for their grandchildren feel a sense of purpose and are kept more physically and mentally active than seniors who do not babysit. It is believed that as a result of the aforementioned benefits of babysitting, elderly people who look after their grandchildren live longer.

Ralph Hertwig further commented on the study and its findings:

Helping shouldn’t be misunderstood as a panacea for a longer life. […] A moderate level of caregiving involvement does seem to have positive effects on health. But previous studies have shown that more intense involvement causes stress, which has negative effects on physical and mental health.

In other words, as with most things in life, babysitting should be done in moderation. If grandparents are more intensely involved in caring for their grandchildren, they are more likely to suffer from poor physical and mental health.

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