Imagine this. You are a tired, stressed out mama who has been running around and taking care for her baby the whole week. Your hubby is working all of the time, your sister/brother usually come along, but you don’t get enough help. You want to take the weekend off and rest, so you ask your parents to babysit.
They are actually thrilled to take over and spend some time with their grandchildren. But while they enjoy being around their grandkids because they adore their little bundle of joys, there’s another good reason why babysitting is actually beneficial for them.
A study published in Evolution and Human Behavior showed that grandparents who babysit their grandchildren or provide any kind of care to their grandkids have a lower risk of death than older adults who do not have any caregiving role or do not participate in any kind of caregiving.
The data for this study was drawn from the longitudinal Berlin Aging study and analyzed the cognitive, physical and social characteristics of 500 people who were aged 70 or older. The participants in the study agreed to complete their interviews and were submitted to medical tests. The analysis was repeated every two years from 1990 to 2009.
So, why exactly does babysitting is beneficial for grandparents?
Dr. Ronan Factora of Cleveland was not a part of the study but explained that there are a lot of reasons why older people find spending time with toddlers beneficial to their health. According to him, as people age, they want to stay physically active, cognitively stimulated and of course, socially engaged. Because all of those things help them age well.
The study discovered that grandparenting is probably the ultimate evolutionarily mechanism that has contributed to a considerable increase in human life expectancy. According to the researchers, the neural and hormonal system that activities in the process of caregiving of children can positively impact the wellbeing of the caregiver.
Moreover, the study also found that other older adults who cared for unrelated children and people who had no children but provided childcare to other children had also a few more years added to their lives.
However, this doesn’t mean that we should let caregivers and grandparents look after our children 24/7. Moderate amount of caregiving may have its benefits, but other studies have shown that sometimes the burden of caregiving can trigger depression, dementia and increased stress levels in informal caregivers, such as family or friends. Especially if the caregiver in question has a long history of anxiety or depression.
All in all, it’s about finding the right balance and sticking to it.
So, what do you think? Is babysitting really that beneficial?