6 benefits of being a grandparent

Beyond the joy of cradling a baby again, the gramps gain other perks when they’re involved in their grandchildren’s lives.

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Steven Selvathurai thinks he has the best gig in the world. When his wife is at work, the 65-year-old retiree spends weekday mornings catching up on the latest world news in print and online before meeting friends for kopi-O. At 1pm, Steven picks up his 3-year-old grandson, Nicholas, at a nearby preschool.

Grandpa and grandson then spend the rest of the afternoon together. When grandma joins them several hours later, it’s fun and games until Nicholas’s parents swing by after work to pick him up. 

“I’m happy to do it and look forward to it,” says Steven who has another two grandkids. “Nicholas reminds me a lot of me when I was a child, so we get along very well. In fact, I miss him during the weekends when he doesn’t come over.”

It’s a boon when working parents can rely on the grandparents for babysitting support. They not only have peace of mind knowing their children are in reliable and capable hands, junior also love being doted on by their grandparents, especially since grandpa and grandma always have chocolates!

On their part, grandparents who have play a role in their grandchildren’s lives also enjoy pretty good perks!

When people are exposed to more touches, their inflammatory cells decreases and white blood cells ― also known as fighter cells ― increases, which boosts good health.

BENEFIT #1 You live longer

These grandparents live five years longer than those who never babysit. A study of 500 people aged 70 and over, by Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia, found that grandparents who occasionally cared for their grandkids had a 37 per cent reduced risk of dying in the next 10 years. For those who didn’t babysit, half died within five years. Experts say helping others acts as a stress buffer, releases the love hormone oxytocin and also strengthens bonds between people. Unsure of where their golden years are taking them, these retirees also rediscover a sense of purpose when they babysit little ones. This boosts their self-esteem, keeping them happy and healthy. 

BENEFIT #2 You’re more mentally and physically fit

A 2014 study by the Women’s Health Aging Project in Australia found that post-menopausal women who cared for their grandkids at least once a week displayed better cognitive abilities than their peers and also lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Experts attribute this to the social engagement that takes place between grandparents and grandkids. Coddling and cuddling can also boost your immune system. When people are exposed to more touches, their inflammatory cells decreases and white blood cells ― also known as fighter cells ― increases, which boosts good health. Active young ones also encourage the older generation to stay fit. Steven notes, “My grandson loves being outside, so we spend a lot of time talking walks or playing with his water table. Now, I’m teaching him how to ride a bike. All these things keep me active.”