Grandchildren bring a lot to our lives – laughter, love, quality time and a uniquely strong and special bond. But did you know spending time with our grandchildren has a hidden benefit, something we all will likely want to take advantage of?
Research shows that transgenerational relationships could be the key to healthy aging, both emotionally and physically. Read on to learn five ways of spending time with your grandchildren can promote positive aging and find out how a new program at the Center for Health & Wellbeing could be your answer.
1. Grandparents Nurture Happiness
This century, the number of dual-worker households and rates of family breakdowns are increasing. As a result, grandparents are now playing an increasingly important role in their grandchildren’s lives. Research at the University of Oxford shows us that grandparents play one of the largest roles when it comes to a child’s wellbeing. This study of more than 1,500 children found that those with a high level of grandparent involvement displayed fewer behavioral and emotional problems.
2. Grandchildren Help Us Stay Sharp
Did you know that spending just the right amount of time with your grandchildren could sharpen your cognitive skills? Research shows that those who care for or spend time with their grandchildren one day per week score higher on memory and mental tests. Interaction with our grandchildren can cause stimulation of certain nerve pathways that are beneficial to our brains.
3. And Help Us Stay Active
Taking part in the activities that interest your grandchild has several benefits. Like not only will they want to spend even more time with you. But it will help you stay active. Loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging is in part caused by reduced physical activity. Inactivity increases with age, and by the age of 75, one in three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity. The key to healthy living is doing things like playing sports, exercising and gardening with your grandchildren. According to a 2011 AARP report, 58% of grandparents said they participated in more physical activity because of their grandchildren.
4. Decrease Depression
A close relationship with our grandchildren should be more than just fun and games. In fact, research has shown that having close emotional ties to our younger loved ones can help reduce depressive symptoms. For example, symptoms such as sad emotions and negative cognitions, are common threats to psychological wellbeing across the life course. Research by psychologists Mirowsky and Ross suggests that for the average person, depressive symptoms follow a U-shaped trajectory, with the most symptoms in youth and old age.
5. And Help Make Our Immune System Stronger
Simple actions like hugging or holding your grandchildren’s hands don’t just do a lot for the heart. They are also good for your immunity system. When we are exposed to increased touch, often times there is a decrease in our inflammatory cells and an increase in white blood cells. A study from the University of Virginia even found that hand holding can reduce pain and lower blood pressure. Hugs and other forms of touch are linked to higher levels of oxytocin and therefore lower levels of stress.
My Grandparent & Me Arts Camp
While there are numerous benefits of grandparent/grandchild time. You might ask yourself ‘what can I do with my grandchildren that will be fun and educational for both of us?’ The answer: the Winter Park Health Foundation and Central Florida Community Arts are presenting an exciting integrational arts camp during which both parties can explore the arts, like singing, dancing, and instruments, together.