It turns out that grandparents who babysit their grandchildren get more than just good memories — they might actually live longer, according to a new study.
The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, examined data from the Berlin Aging Study of over 500 people at least 70 years old, according to Action News Jax.
Seniors who provided a child with some type of care had a significantly lower risk of death over a 20-year period than their counterparts who did not watch over a child, according to ClevelandClinic.org.
There is one fairly important caveat, however: Grandparents who were the primary caregivers for their grandchildren were not included in the study.
Dr. Ronan Factora, of Cleveland Clinic, who was not a part of the study, said “there is a link between providing this care and reducing stress and we know the relationship between stress and higher risk of dying.”
“If providing care to grandchildren and others in need is one way that can actually reduce stress,” he said, “then these activities should be of benefit to folks who are grandparents and provide this care to their grandkids.”
There are also several other benefits that come with taking care of a child, Factorsa said.
“We know that as you age, you want to stay physically active,” he said. “You want to stay socially engaged; you want to be cognitively stimulated; and all those things allow you to age well.”
But he added that devoting too much of your energy to taking care of your grandchild can actually increase your stress levels — which would counteract the health benefits found in the study.
“You want to make sure that you find that right balance between getting the positive benefits of doing enough of an activity to help those in need,” he said, “and avoiding doing too much and getting to the point where the activity makes one overly stressed.”
Another study from researchers in Australia found that a moderate amount of time spent babysitting grandchildren could actually prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, according to WFAA. That’s thought to happen because babysitting can amp up brain power and lower the chances of developing depression, according to USA Today.