Can Being a Grandparent Help You Live Longer?
Can being a grandparent help you live longer?
As if there aren’t enough great reasons for spending time with your grandchildren, multiple studies show that there are measurable health benefits for spending time with and helping care for grandchildren.
It seems that being a grandparent can help you live longer too!
Is it possible? Can being a grandparent really help you live longer?
Research Supports This
I’ve been seeing things that say this for a while. From what I can tell, it’s all based on one study, that came out a number of years ago and it’s continued since its initial findings.
It was a legit study and it did show some significant differences between grandparents that provided some care to grandchildren (or others) and between grandparents that didn’t spend time caring for others.
However, there is a lot of research that points to the health benefits of being connected to others in positive relationships. I’ve seen some research that having strong relationships is the MOST important health practice you can have!
These relationships include family, friends, and our community. Social connections are important!
Being a grandparent, per se, isn’t what makes it healthy. Being an involved, connected grandparent is where you reap the benefits!
How Important Are Your Positive Relationships?
Very. There are many studies that show the value of positive relationships on our health and on our life expectancy. Some studies say that not having strong connections is as harmful as smoking or alcoholism.
Spending time in a relationship with your grandchildren can help boost your health! It doesn’t just feel good to you; it is good for you.
This is important. Modern living is more isolated. Fewer people live in the communities where they grew up, people put off marriage longer, and there are way more single resident households than ever before.
As we all know, at times it seems much harder to build social connections in our fast-paced world.
What is a Healthy Positive Relationship?
The simple answer is a healthy relationship is generally positive for the people in it.
You spend time with each other. In a healthy relationship, you feel cared for and you care for the other person. You feel connected to the other person.
Time is important. All relationships require a time commitment.
The Berlin study that showed that grandparents who actually spent time taking care of grandchildren, lived on average five years longer than grandparents who didn’t care for grandchildren.
By committing to time with grandchildren you commit to having an actual relationship.
Being a Grandparent Allows You to Express Lots of LOVE
Relationships require us to put energy into something that is bigger than ourselves. While we all love being cared for ourselves, it’s good for us to care about someone else.
I find it easier to pour love into grandchildren. They soak it up like it is their purpose on earth.
For instance, grandchildren accept multiple “I love you’s, hugs, and other signs of affection. I have lots of friends who enjoy this in moderation but would totally think I was weird if I showed as much affection to them as I do for my grandchildren.
When my own children were young, I recognized how important this was. It was so healing for me to have people in my life that accepted all my love.
This is important, we don’t need to just get unconditional love, we need to be able to give it too!
Unfortunately, many adults just can’t receive it like that. Grandchildren can. You just can’t love on them too much.
Being an Active Grandparent Builds Intergenerational Connections
I recently read the book, The Blue Zones. The author studied and spent time with small populations that had larger than average populations of people that lived past 100.
One thing in common among these centenarians, was that they either lived with or near their extended families. As an example,, they had access to their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. They were active parts of their families.
As grandparents, we not only spend time with our grandchildren, but we spend time with our children. If we take part in and host family events or continuing family traditions, we create connections that cross the generations and build an interconnected family.
While, these days we usually don’t all live in the same house or even the same neighborhood, we can reap some of these benefits by doing things with multi-generations.
We can do this by celebrating holidays and special occasions together. Families can gather for vacations together. You can create amazing memories!
Grandchildren Can Help Us Take Better Care of Ourselves
I hope to be around to see my grandchildren grow up. Part of this means more than wishing. Eating healthy, exercising, and finding other ways of taking care of myself are important. I don’t want to just live a long life; I want to live an active engaged life.
Being active means, I can take part in more things. Recently, we did a family trip to Disney Land. There was so much walking involved! It was also fun to be the adults in the group that would also do the scary, wet ride as many times as my granddaughter wanted.
For example, because I stay active, I have been able to take walks with the girls, go roller skating, take them to the park. In the future I hope to introduce them to hiking, bike riding, and other active things. Sharing healthy activities now and in the future motivates me to take the very best care of myself.
That doesn’t mean you have to be able to do all this—but it definitely expands the things you can do with your grandchildren for more of your life.
Grandchildren Can Help Us Feel Connected to Their Generation
Being a grandparent is ideally just one of your social connections. Yet, any positive social connection is good for you and I can’t think of any that I enjoy quite as much as with my grandchildren.
By being with my grandchildren, I feel just more connected. Because they are a couple of generations behind me, they help me feel connected to younger people in general. It’s easy to think that younger generations are different or that the world is falling apart.
When I see my grandchildren and see that they are smart, caring, and ambitious, it helps me feel positive about the future. As a result, I feel connected to this generation because of my grandchildren. I hope conversely that their relationship with me, helps them feel connected to my generation as well.
Grandchildren Can Help Us Feel Younger
When I first heard I was going to be a grandmother, I wasn’t sure how that would feel. I remember my grandmothers as being old to me. And telling people I was a grandmother made me feel a little old.
Yet, the truth and the way it turned out was that by spending time with my grandchildren, I actually feel younger. I get to do so many things that I used to feel too old to do. Entering the world of a child is magic. As a grandparent, you get to play, you get to talk about your favorite books, you get to go to parks. You get to act silly.
Can Grandchildren Help You Live Longer?
There is evidence that grandchildren can help you be healthier and live longer. More important than the actual years is how much you enjoy the years.
For myself, being an active part of my grandchildren’s lives has made the past six years some of the best of my life.
Not only that, but they give me something to live for. Certainly, it’s not the only thing but it is an important thing. This connection is a vital part of my overall social life and one that is very different than all the others.
Enjoy those grandkids and enjoy the health benefits as well!
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Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! My Think Big Life began shortly after I turned 50. Big changes can happen with a small start, an adjustment of thought, or a simple process. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.