Three Ways Your Grandchildren Can Make You Happier
The jokes about grandparents enjoying all the benefits of a baby without the diaper changing are true. Who wouldn’t love to look at, and hold, a tiny little bundle of joy they get to hand back to mommy or daddy the second baby starts to fuss?
People often focus on the benefits of having active grandparents around. Throughout time, grandparents have offered babysitting, wisdom (related to child-rearing as well as other topics), financial assistance and a link to the past that most people just can’t find someplace else.
But studies show that grandchildren aren’t the only ones to benefit from a strong grandchild/grandparent relationship. Even adult grandchildren have the capacity to make grandparents happier… and not just by giving them great-grandchildren to love and cuddle, either.
Here are three ways a strong grandparent/grandchild bond can help seniors.
1. Close grandparent/grandchild relationships reduce depression in both parties.
A preliminary study out of the better department of sociology and the Institute on Aging at Boston College shows that grandparents in a supportive emotional relationship with their adult grandchildren show fewer depression symptoms. It works both ways, too: being closer to your grandparents can make adult grandchildren happier.
2. A close grandchild/grandparent relationship can help you live longer.
It may sound far-fetched, but other studies have shown a 26 percent lower risk of death over a seven-year period in adults who have close relationships with members of their family, including grandchildren.
3. Hanging out with grandchildren provides mutual support.
If you’re living alone, you may rely on adult children and grandchildren for everything from doctor’s trips to grocery shopping, raking leaves, or doing odd chores around the house. It’s good to have family members we can count on. But grandchildren may also provide opportunities for you to help them, and this can boost your mood and alleviate depression symptoms.
Whether it’s help babysitting for a few hours or financial assistance, being empowered with the chance to help others makes seniors feel good. A healthy, give-and-take relationship between grandchildren and grandparents helps both parties feel better, while giving each the practical help they need when they need it.
When a Grandchild is a Caregiver
Even in a caregiver relationship, seniors receiving care can give back in a number of ways that will improve the relationship and the mindset of both parties.
The Boston College study showed that seniors who receive support or care without a chance to reciprocate were at greater risk of depression. When they were given a chance to give back in some way, the risk of depression decreased. Seniors who both received and gave support to grandchildren showed the lowest depression rates in the group of 376 grandparents and 340 grandchildren studied from 1985 to 2004.
Seniors may impart knowledge and wisdom, money, or token gifts that help caregivers feel appreciated and, at the same time, help seniors feel needed and relevant, boosting their mood.
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