Do you need a baby-sitter? If your older family member is amenable to the idea, why not let grandma watch the kiddos while you enjoy a date night? You reap the benefits of adult time, and your loved one gets a health boost.
Watching the grandchildren has a host of mental and physical benefits, particularly for older adults. It gets their muscles moving and forces them to use their brainpower. It also enables them to have fun and renew their enjoyment of life.
1. She’ll Laugh a Lot
Kids do the craziest things — which keeps the people minding them in stitches. This laughter benefits grandma because a deep belly chuckle alleviates muscular tension and stress for up to 45 minutes. Laughter also tones your abdominal muscles, which help improve posture and stave off osteoporosis. Psychologically, a good giggle improves mental outlook, which is useful because depression is common in seniors.
2. She’ll Get Her Blood Flowing
Exercise prevents a host of health woes, from cardiovascular disease to Type 2 diabetes. Grandma can stay active and healthy, chasing the little ones around the yard even if she’s not training for a marathon. When she bends down to pick up a toddler, she engages her quads and hamstrings. She also gets her heart pumping a bit faster. This is a critical factor in overall longevity, as diseases of the ticker remain the No. 1 killer of women.
3. She’ll Learn New Things
A British study indicated that short-term memory decreases 40% more quickly in people who are retired versus those who remain in the workforce. Your brain is a muscle. Just like your biceps, if you don’t use the tissue, you begin losing function. Watching the grandchildren forces your elderly parent to make hundreds of tiny decisions. It also encourages her to learn new things. For example, if she’s helping one of the littles put together a jigsaw puzzle or complete a homework assignment, she’s working out her neurons.
4. She’ll Alleviate Loneliness
Did you know that one out of three elderly adults struggles with loneliness? When you age, you begin losing people with whom you formerly shared relationships. If you don’t actively seek new friendships, it’s easy to become isolated. Loneliness doesn’t only create psychological distress. It can also lead to an increased risk of heart attack and other diseases.
When grandma takes the children to the playground, she has the chance to mingle with others who are also minding their charges. She can strike up conversations with the folks sitting next to her at soccer matches. To make new friends, you need to go where the people are, and children offer an excuse to do so.
5. She’ll Decrease Stress
Too much stress increases the risk of developing anything from Alzheimer’s disease to gastrointestinal problems. When grandma is chasing the grandkids around the backyard, she’s not worried about rising drug costs. Reducing stress can lower high blood pressure and eliminate the agony of chronic pain conditions.
6. She’ll Get Outdoors
Many researchers believe that getting outdoors improves mood and well-being as effectively as medications in some cases. Light tends to elevate people’s attitudes and gives them more energy. Grandma can take the grandkids out to putter in the garden with her — everyone will enjoy a vitamin D boost.
7. She’ll Live Longer
You love your mom, and you want her to stay around as long as possible. Asking her to baby-sit may be the perfect way to ensure she enjoys as long of a life as possible. Research indicates that people who help and support others live longer than those who don’t participate in regular altruism. A study of grandparents found that half of those who watched their grandkids remained alive a decade later. In comparison, many of those who did not have grandchildren or watch other people’s tended to die within five years.
8. She’ll Renew Her Sense of Purpose
If you’re still in the workforce, you might not spend much time thinking of reasons to get out of bed in the morning. You have the demands of career and family to rouse you. Once you retire, it’s easy to feel like a piece of discarded paper floating on the breeze. When you lack a sense of purpose in life, it can lead to existential despair and significant anxiety.
9. It Gives You a Break
“Now wait a second,” you might think. “How does it benefit mom when I get a break?” However, consider this — you can’t pour from an empty pitcher. Research indicates that hanging out with your mom more often can benefit her longevity. If you’re rundown and ragged from the demands of work and family, do you take the time to make a weekly check-in call or meet for tea? When you take the rest you need, you restore your energy so you can give back to your entire family — including senior members.
Let Grandma Baby-Sit — It’s for Her Health
You might think you’re taking advantage of grandma by asking her to baby-sit. However, as it turns out, you’re doing her a service. As long as you both derive enjoyment from the experience, let nana watch the kiddos for a while. She’ll be glad you did.