Teaching, cuddling and playing with your grandchildren are not just fun activities. Time with your grandkids is actually good for your health. So says Angela Sanford, Assistant Professor of Geriatrics at Saint Louis University. “You can’t be unhappy around little kids. They’re mood lifters. Little ones typically adore and look up to their grandparents, which is great for your sense of self-worth and self-esteem.”
It’s not just about Hallmark moments, either. Being with your grandchildren can keep you more physically active, whether you’re pushing a swing or wrestling on the living room floor. Grandparents tend to cook more with grandchildren around, which is a great thing in many ways. Home-cooked meals are often healthier, and all that measuring, stirring, chopping and pouring is good for your fine motor skills. And don’t forget the benefit of eating a meal with those you love!
Studies also show that playing games and putting puzzles together with your grandkids is good for your memory and your brain, and you have no chance for boredom because you’re mixing up the activities, reading a book one minute and building a fort the next. One study from Boston University found that emotional closeness between adult grandchildren and their grandparents protects both against depression. Regular visits with grandchildren also has been linked in some studies to a longer, healthier and healthier life.
One key benefit of spending time with grandchildren is a higher level of activity. Activity triggers a whole cycle of well-being, researchers say. It helps you eat, sleep and even digest food better, which are problems many older adults have. And when you’re busy, you’re less sedentary. There’s even a benefit in lying down with the little ones for a nap.