Grandma's Brain Benefits From Babysitting, Says Science

by Jerriann Sullivan
Originally Published: 
Grandma's brain benefits
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Grandma’s brain benefits from time with the kids

Finally, we don’t have to feel guilty for dropping the kids off at grandma’s house. We’re not exploiting her for free babysitting; we’re helping keep her brain healthy – just ask a doctor.

A new study from real doctors shows that post-menopausal women who take care of grandkids have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders. The brilliant research we plan on citing all the time was published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society. Parents everywhere will be sharing this new info when calmly explaining why the kids are going to grandma’s house again this weekend.

So how did we find out this magical piece of information we plan on using regularly? It’s all thanks to the researchers at the Women’s Healthy Aging Project in Australia. They tested 186 post-menopausal ladies, most of whom are grandmothers, with three different cognitive tests. The results came in and showed that the ladies who helped with childcare at least one day a week scored better on the brain tests.

We know what you’re thinking, “what will I do with all this extra time thanks to grandma’s free babysitting?” Aimlessly stroll the aisles of Target, finally try out that spin class, or catch up on the hot mess that is Bachelor in Paradise are just a few ideas that come to mind. But don’t get too excited, mamas and papas, because there’s a catch. Apparently, five or more days a week with the kids isn’t so great for grandma’s brain and ends up lowering her scores on those fancy cognitive tests.

In a nutshell, your kids will drive her as batty as they drive you if she spends too much time caring for them.

Plus, since grandmas are people too they don’t exactly love being treated like an unpaid, live-in nanny. “The researchers also found the grandmothers who helped out more often felt their own children — the parents of the grandkids — were too demanding of their time,” CBS News explained. ” The researchers suggest that feeling overextended dampened the mood of those grandmothers, which impacted brain function.” Grandmas have lives too, mkay? Let’s not go overboard.

The key to keeping grams happy and healthy is some babysitting, but not so much that you forget your kids’ names. If this highly scientific research doesn’t convince grandma to pick up a few babysitting shifts we’ve got another study for you. Researchers have shown that older people without close contact with their family and friends had a 26 percent higher death risk over a seven-year period. That’s not a grim statistic to site at all. We’re sure “we’re saving your life” will go over well the next time you try to convince her to take the kids for the day.

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