Live longer; babysit your grandchildren.

Most of us are aware of the common sense rules to health and longevity. 

Eating right, proper exercise, and keeping connected with friends and family are among some at the top of the list.  Recent studies have added a new one to the list that is sitting right there amongst the heavy hitters, babysitting your grandchildren.

Being a grandparent can have far reaching, healthy benefits for our senior citizens.  By the time most people become grandparents they are done with raising their own children and have moved on to a new phase in their lives.  Many have retired or are getting ready to.  They have been away from babies for long enough to have forgotten how hard they can be and just reminisce on how beautiful of a gift they are.

It seems as if grandchildren have been divinely timed to enter the lives of their happily, available, and perhaps lonely, grandparents during the perfect phase of life.  Most people who have raised a family know that there are times that it seems overwhelming and the dreams of easier days come often.  When the last child moves out and the house is quiet again there is a certain relief that comes from reaching the finish line and yet there is sadness as well.

The most perfect answer to that sadness may just be a brand new baby in the family.  It can represent so much to a grandparent.  The next generation has arrived.  The baby brings back memories of their own childhood and those of their children.  The grandparent has a new meaning to live, to watch this new child grow up and to be needed once more.

There is a report that was done by Evolution and Human Behavior, which took data from the Berlin Aging Study, and it claims that babysitting your grandchildren can lead to a longer life.  The study was conducted with 500 people over the age of 70.  Those that regularly took care of their grandchildren were found to have a lower risk of dying over a 20 year period compared to those who did not take care of a child. So this study appears to show that taking care of your grandchild on a routine basis can increase your lifespan.  The study did not include grandparents who take care of their grandchildren full time however.

The biggest difference between being a parent and being a grandparent is mostly the level of responsibility.  A grandparent that routinely cares for grandchildren doesn’t need to be up on the latest baby information.  They don’t need to take children to the doctor, or school, or sporting activities.  They aren’t financially responsible anymore.  And the welfare of that child is not usually solely dependent on the grandparent; that is left up to the parents.

Enjoy this time that you spend with your grandchildren; they will surely enjoy it with you.  Less responsibility, longer lifespan, and all the love you can absorb from your new bundle of joy.  What do you have to lose?

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