Alex Haley once said, “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”
Grandparents Day is Sunday, September 10. While there may be plenty of hand drawn cards and special presents given to them on this day, grandparents can be provided gifts in the form of health benefits all year long through regular interaction with their grandchildren.
The Journals of Gerontology reports caregiving is positively affirming, so grandparents may find caring for a grandchild rewarding. Caregiving grandparents report feeling closer to their grandchildren and enjoying time spent with them. Caring for a grandchild may lead to a more active lifestyle, healthier meals, or a reduction in smoking. A 2016 article in The Gerontologist stated emotionally close ties between grandparents and their adult grandchildren helped reduce depression for both generations.
Of course, the characteristics and context of the caregiving situation can change the health effects. The Women's Healthy Aging Project found that postmenopausal women who took care of their grandchildren one day a week had better memory and faster cognitive speed than those who didn't. However, women who cared for grandchildren five or more days a week had significantly slower processing speed and planning scores, which the team posits may be due to feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, and stress.