Many parents use their own parents for occasional babysitting or for full-time care while they work to help save money. Both parents work full-time jobs in 46% of two-parent households. But if your child’s grandparents live nearby, you might actually be missing out on some unexpected benefits both for your kids and their grandparents.
From a lower risk of depression to increased longevity, here are some of the inter-generational advantages of having grandparents babysit your kids.
Inter-generational care makes everyone happy
It’s true that spending time with young grandchildren can have anti-depressive benefits for grandparents and can increase their overall enjoyment of life. But spending time with grandparents can also have positive mental health benefits on your kids, too.
One study that looked at 374 grandparents and 356 adult grandchildren found that kids who grow up to have greater emotional closeness with grandparents are less likely to suffer from depression as adults.
Babysitting extends the life of grandparents
Approximately 70% of Americans turning 65 will need some type of long-term care in their lifetime. But research shows that grandparents who babysit their grandkids actually live longer than same-age seniors who don’t have the responsibility of babysitting.
Up to 10% of grandparents live with a grandchild and, according to a study that looked at 500 seniors aged 70 and older, grandparents who regularly babysat their grandkids had a 37% lower mortality risk than those who didn’t.
Time with grandkids can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
Researchers say that time spent with grandkids can increase grandparents’ longevity because babysitting helps them stay physically and mentally active. In fact, because of babysitting’s impact on mental health, time spent with grandkids can actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to research from the US National Library of Medicine, postmenopausal women who spend at least one day a week taking care of their grandchildren have the highest cognitive performance among postmenopausal women of the same age. They also have a lower risk of developing cognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s disease.
Babysitting can help to reduce costs for everyone
Not only does having your parents watch your kids for you while you’re at work or running errands reduce costs of childcare but it can also reduce long-term costs for the grandparents.
About 29% of the U.S. population provides care for an aged, ill, or disabled family member during the year. By reducing grandparents’ risk of depression and Alzheimer’s, increasing their longevity, and boosting their immune system just by having them babysit once a week, you can end up saving them money on long-term care and other healthcare costs.
That being said, if your kids haven’t visited their grandparents in a while and they live nearby, consider making a weekly visit. Both your kids and their grandparents will appreciate the time in more ways than one.