By Lola Augustine Brown
Spending quality time with the grandkids does more than just give you the warm and fuzzies—it can add a few years to your lifespan, according to research published in the journal Evolution & Human Behavior.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 500 people over 70 involved in the Berlin Aging Study. Half of those who helped out with their grandkids or helped their adult children in some way were still around 10 years after the study began, but half of those who didn’t help others died within five years. “Mortality hazards” for grandparents who provided non-custodial childcare were 37% lower than for either non-grandparents or and grandparents who didn’t help with their grandchildren. (Grandparents who were primary caregivers for their grandchildren were excluded.)
Researchers speculated that caring for grandchildren provides a sense of purpose and keeps one physically active and mentally alert. Looking after the grandkids also means more social interaction, easing the loneliness many seniors feel.
Now you have the perfect excuse for spending more time with your grandchildren—as if you needed one. And even if you haven’t any grandchildren, you now have a good reason to consider volunteering.