A new study of postmenopausal Australian women finds that engaging in grandparenting activities may help delay Alzheimer’s disease.
- 186 postmenopausal women were studied caring for grandchildren one or more days per week, with the study showing women who care for grandchildren one day per week showed higher cognitive scores.
- Grandmothers who cared for children five days per week alternatively had lower cognitive tests, suggesting that high-intensity care contributed to a higher risk of neurodegenerative disorders.
- Spending a moderate amount of time grandparenting created the best results among cognitive tests in the study, potentially boosting brain power and decreasing depression.
Why It’s Important
It is already well known that social activity and mental exercises are important for individuals at risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, as they help exercise the brain, lower negative thoughts, and offset the negative effects of memory loss and disease progression. Building off of prior studies which show social engagement assists delays dementia onset; this new study claims to be a first-of-its-kind look at how grandparenting affects Alzheimer’s.
Geriatrics specialist Dr. Diana Kerwin of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas tells USA Today that social interactions, physical exercise, and engagement are the best tools for grandparents in helping to offset the negative effects of these neurological conditions.
“If you think about when you do take care of a child, you tend to become more of a teacher. You’re teaching them new experiences, maybe taking them to the zoo or working on vocabulary with them … it’s stimulating for the babysitter’s brain as well,” says Dr. Kerwin.
“Amount of time spent minding grandchildren predicted differences in SDMT performance (P < 0.01). The highest cognitive scores for most tests were seen in participants who minded grandchildren for one day/week. Minding grandchildren for one day/week was also a significant positive predictor of California Verbal Learning Test immediate recall performance (P < 0.05). However, minding grandchildren for five days or more per week predicted lower SDMT performance (P < 0.05),” says the study.