Most people can relate to the fact that children make us feel young and remind us of the carefree and joyous aspects of our true selves. But, on a scientific level, a new study has shown that spending time with the grandchildren, on a regular basis, may help with depression and improve overall brain function. Depression is associated with social isolation and earlier death—particularly in the elderly population.
Study on Babysitting Grandchildren and Alzheimer’s Prevention
The Women’s Health and Aging Project in Australia conducted the very first study to observe the effect of grandparents spending time with their grandchildren, on cognitive functioning. The study involved the observation of cognitive functioning in 180 post-menopausal women who babysat their grandkids at least one day per week on a regular basis. Researchers discovered that the group who watched the grandchildren once a week may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders. At the same time, those who spent 5 days per week or more babysitting kids may end up with an increased risk of cognitive disorders. So, the sweet spot is 1 day per week.
If you love spending time with the grandkids, here are some tips for innovative activities to do with kids of all ages:
- Play a hide and seek game, if it’s too difficult for you to physically hide, consider hiding an object, such as a teddy bear or an action figure (for older kids).
- For toddlers, cut up pipe cleaners and other materials into shapes like cones, triangles and circles. Next, cut duplicate shapes in the plastic lid of a coffee can. Cover the can with the lid and have the toddler drop the various sized shapes into the can—fitting them through the corresponding slots in the plastic lid.
- Purchase some washable window markers (such as “Crafty Dab Window Writers”) and get creative by painting surfaces such as sliding glass doors and other windows.
- Set up the tent and go on a camping excursion inside the house during winter months. Be sure to gather important items you will need for camping, such as flashlights, pillows and sleeping bags—and of course S’mores!
- Arrange a tea party. Craft some handmade invitations for guests, and serve a variety of healthy decaffeinated tea, such as green tea, herbal flavored tea, etc. -Go on a nature walk, collect colorful leaves and use them to make a collage or another type of art project.
- Use large chalk to draw a colorful art display in the driveway or elsewhere.
- Teach older grandchildren how to cook, sew, crochet, can vegetables, do woodworking or other hobbies you love to do
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