How Caring for Grandchildren Helps Your Brain

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brainMaking my way into the kitchen one morning for coffee, I had forgotten that seven of our grandchildren were spending the night. Jump-starting my brain was the only thing I knew. My habit is to pre-set my coffee pot so it is ready for me when I wake up. It’s the closest thing to a butler I ever expect to have. 

That particular morning, I had just gotten my first cup to my lips when I heard someone talking. As I turned around, another one began talking, and another, and another. Within seconds there were seven of the cutest round faces all talking at once. To me. In the morning. Before my first cup of coffee. Silently questioning their upbringing, I smiled and slipped away. 

It’s my goal each morning to get enough coffee in me each morning to make my brain function. As a courtesy to my family, I try not to subject them to me without coffee.

Brain function is a big deal to me.

As a general rule, I try to take care of my mind as much as any other part of my health. At the time I saw those little faces, each one trying to tell me a different story. I had no idea that just spending time with them was more beneficial to my brain health than my coffee.

Why Might Caring for Grandchildren Help Your Brain?

Studies show promising results that explain why helping to care for our grandchildren can indeed improve our brain health. One theory behind the research is that the social interaction with grandchildren stimulates the brain function in very positive ways. 

Although, I’m sure that the researchers were not talking about trying to follow seven different storylines, ranging from Legos to Batman. Nevertheless, the delightful conversations you can have with children has to create neurons of happiness and health. Any grandparent can tell you that. It’s just that now, science can tell us exactly how it happens. 

Grandparents that take daily care of their grandchildren score higher on verbal fluency than those who only care for their grandchildren on a weekly basis.

When you think of it, caring for children uses functions of the brain we no longer use on a daily basis.

Also, contributing factors could be that when we are caring for our grandchildren we are more active physically. 

We are also more likely to go outside and go for a walk or to the park. Fresh air and exercise contribute to brain health as done plenty of sleep. Anytime you are caring for the children you love, you are going to be more mindful of their exercise, fresh air, and nutrition. Therefore, by default, you will be taking better care of yourself than you might have if you were alone. 

Besides, keeping up with some of the chatterboxes in my family is like doing a mental crossword puzzle in a foreign language. Now that’s mental calisthenics that requires caffeinated lubrication.

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