BERLIN – Live long and thrive – by helping others. Especially when it comes to your grandchildren. According to a recent study, this was led by researchers from a group of universities in Europe and Australia.
The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, showed that grandparents who care for their grandchildren live longer than grandparents who are not so active. Similarly, older people who help care for their peers live longer than those who don’t.
To draw their conclusion, researchers evaluated 500 individuals between 70 and 103 years old, using data from the Berlin Aging Study collected between 1990 and 2009. Grandparents who were primary caregivers for their grandchildren were not included in the study.
What they found was pretty important: half of the grandparents who cared for their grandchildren lived about five years longer than those who didn’t. Participants who did not have grandchildren, but who still supported their children through activities such as housework, also lived at least five years longer than those who did not.
Older adults who had no children but who had helped others in their social network lived about three years longer than those who did not.
“But helping should not be misunderstood as a panacea for a longer life,” said Ralph Hertwig, director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in an issue of the University of Basal. “A moderate degree of concern involvement appears to have a positive effect on health. But earlier studies have shown that more intense involvement causes stress, which has a negative effect on physical and mental health.”
So, for grandparents who want to stay longer, just to watch their grandchildren reach milestones in their lives – make sure you are an active part of their upbringing and you will have a greater chance of being there for them as adults.