Worried About Alzheimer’s? Try Babysitting

We are fortunate enough to be able to have our kids see their grandparents on a regular basis. Both my parents and my wife’s parents live within a simple 5- 30 minute drive that we could take them over and have them spend quality time together. I love this because I remember growing up and visiting my grandparents at least weekly.

In the news there has been talk of babysitting grand kids and how it can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. In addition to boosting brain power, babysitting has been linked to decreased rates of depressing, which totally makes sense because my kids are so fun to be around. I don’t think I could ever be depressed after chasing my son around the back yard, jumping on the trampoline or playing in the fall leaves we raked up. There’s something about spending time with kids that always makes everything better.

On Alzheimers.net they said it best:

Researchers from the Women’s Health Aging Project in Australia observed the cognitive function of over 180 women who cared for grandchildren. The results showed that postmenopausal women who spend one day a week caring for their grandchildren may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders. However, those that spend five days a week or more caring for little ones may have a higher risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders.

This is the first study to examine the role of grandparenting on cognition. While the reason for the correlation is not clear, it is thought that regular social interaction can have a positive effect on the mental health of seniors. Caring for grandchildren can help to prevent the social isolation that can cause depression, and even an earlier death.

In addition to preventing Alzheimer’s and avoiding social isolation, other research suggests that a strong grandchild and grandparent bond has anti-depressive benefits for both seniors and children. A study from the Institute on Aging at Boston College observed the habits of 376 grandparents and 340 children for 19 years. They found that the closer the relationship between the two, the less likely either were to develop depression and that grandparents who both gave and received support had the fewest symptoms of depression.

Some of our favorite activities to do with grandparents are:

  1. Feed the ducks at a local park.
  2. Build a simple fort and enjoy imagination play together.
  3. Teach them one of your hobbies (sewing, quilting, sports, how to do their taxes)
  4. Create a family fan chart with i Chart you and tell them about the family members you knew personally.
  5. Take them to the local zoo, aquarium, library or farm.
  6. Write letters to each other.
  7. If you have a garden or fruit trees, pick the fruit or vegetables and make something with them out of the things you grew yourself.
  8. Have a sleepover where you actually sleep by them.
  9. Play dress up together and maybe let them wear some of your clothes so they can be you.
  10. Teach them a skill that will last forever (cooking, cleaning, fishing). Their parents will love this.
  11. Read together.  There is something special about cuddling up to someone you love and reading together.
  12. Go to sporting events together.  Whether it is cheering on your grandchild or attending a game together it is always fun to be a cheerleader.

I am very grateful for the grandparents that we have who help us out and really enjoy spending time with our kids. I know that my children will never forget the time that they spend with them.  If Alzheimer’s does happen to set in, you better believe our kids will do everything they can to help bring their memory back by sharing all the fun adventures they enjoyed together.

Worried About Alzheimer's? Try Babysitting | The Modern Dad