A day spent babysitting the grandchildren is always a special time for Mom, but did you know that there may be health benefits that come with watching after the little ones? That’s right! Some scientists think that regular social interaction with the grandchildren has a positive effect on Mom’s mental health. In fact, a recent study that was conducted in Australia found that postmenopausal women who spent one day a week looking after their grandchildren had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
While scientists are not entirely sure why babysitting the grandkids keeps Mom’s brain healthy, they think that it may have to do with the benefits of social interaction. Social isolation, particularly isolation from one’s family, can lead to depression. One study that was done at University College London found that seniors who spent too much time away from their families had a 26 percent higher death rate than those who spent a considerable amount of time with their families during the week.
Studies have shown that people who suffer from mild cognitive impairment and depression have a higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. So scientists believe that spending time with the grandchildren during the week provides the right amount of social interaction to help keep Mom’s brain happy, healthy, and depression-free. Everything in moderation though. While scientists did find that one day a week spent with the grandkids was good for Mom’s mental health, they also found that five or more days a week spent babysitting them actually caused cognitive decline in some of the women who were tested.
It’s not just babysitting the grandchildren that’s beneficial to Mom’s mental health. Any type of social interaction with the grandkids is good for Mom’s brain. One study found that seniors who use social media, like Facebook, to keep in touch with their family and friends may actually experience cognitive improvement from that type of interaction. So encourage Mom to keep in touch with the older grandchildren and other family members through modern technology and social media, because it can promote healthy brain aging. Find tools to help you teach Mom about social media.
Young children are fun, genuine, full of energy, and unpredictable. Keeping up with them means that Mom needs to have a sharp mind and plenty of energy. So the next time that you need to ask her to look after the kids for a couple of hours, don’t feel guilty, because it’s good for her brain health.