You're not inconveniencing your parents—calling on them to babysit could actually extend their lifespan.

By Jenny Krane
February 19, 2019

Call up Mom or Dad the next time you and your significant other have a date night (without the kids). A recent study from the National Health Service has found that grandparents who babysit their grandchildren live longer than those who don’t. So not only will babysitting your kids help your parents potentially live longer, but meaningful relationships and wonderful memories will surely be formed. It's a win-win.

grandfather playing a casual game of backyard baseball with two young grandsons

The study looked at over 500 adults age 70 or older in Berlin over the span of 20 years. Participants were interviewed and underwent medical tests in two-year intervals, and were also asked about how often they looked after or spent time with grandkids without the parents present.

There were three categories of participants: caregiving grandparents, non-caregiving grandparents, and non-grandparents. Researchers found that caregiving grandparents had a 37 percent chance of living longer when compared to non-caregiving grandparents and non-grandparents. There was no difference in life expectancy between non-caregiving grandparents and non-grandparents.

So, can non-grandparents still increase their chances of living longer? Those who provided help to their adult children had a 57 percent lower risk of mortality than those who didn’t. And those who did not have children had an improved risk if they gave support to others in some way, like volunteering or helping friends.

Although this study didn’t pinpoint what exactly causes an increase in life expectancy, it reports that helping others gives people a sense of purpose, and also keeps them physically and mentally active. So instead of calling a teenager down the street this Friday for date night, try giving your parents a ring to see if they’re available to watch the kids.

Grandmother helping young granddaughter feed fish in backyard pond

If you’re a grandparent who’s at a loss for what to do with your grandchildren, try including them in your hobbies. They’ll enjoy spending time with you and learning new things, and you’ll love the company.

Get them into the garden and show them how cool nature can be—plus, they’ll love getting their hands dirty. Teach them how to knit, crochet, or sew with you. Bake chocolate chip cookies and let them be apart of the process of making their favorite treat. Even stirring and pouring ingredients into the bowl is a thrill for them.


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