When it comes to marriage, one of the best possible things you can do for your relationship is designate a date night once a week. You want to hire a babysitting service (after all, services that save you time do make you happier), but their rates as of late have been downright exorbitant (Come on, Becky, how can you expect us to pay for dental?). But there’s another option on the table, and it’s free—just get your parents to watch the kids!
This decision wasn’t just a good idea for your wallet, it was a good idea for your parents’ health. According to a new study published in Evolution and Human Behavior, grandparents who watch their grandchildren live significantly longer lives (which makes sense, since being a grandparent has some pretty awesome health benefits all around).
The study used data from the Berlin Aging Study and analyzed 20 years worth of data from 500 seniors aged 70 and older. Grandparents who provided some form of care to their grandchildren had a 37 percent lower hazard ratio than their non-caregiving peers.
“There is a link between providing this care and reducing stress and we know the relationship between stress and higher risk of dying,” said Dr. Factora. “If providing care to grandchildren and others in need is one way that can actually reduce stress, then these activities should be of benefit to folks who are grandparents and provide this care to their grandkids.”
Dr. Factora also said caregiving can be physically demanding, which can help keep the body young.
However, he said too much caregiving, to the point where it is overwhelming, can have the opposite effect and actually be the source of stress and aging.
“You want to make sure that you find that right balance between getting the positive benefits of doing enough of an activity to help those in need and avoiding doing too much and getting to the point where the activity makes one overly stressed,” said Dr. Factora.
Dr. Factora said another benefit for seniors who provide care is the social interaction that it provides, which is key to keeping the brain healthy.