When the parents of young children need a romantic break away to relax and make time for each other, they often call on the grandparents to mind the children. But is it good for older people to babysit? This is the question that was posed by the North American Menopause Society, the American association dedicated to the menopause and menopausal women. Here are the results of their study.
Babysitting could develop cognitive functioning in older people
The North American Menopause Society is made up of experts in medicine, paediatrics, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, epidemiology, pharmacy and education.
120 grandparents participated int the study. Following an analysis of the behaviour and cognitive functions of the participants, the study showed that grandparents who looked after their grandchildren for at least one day a week obtained better results on cognitive tests. Their cognitive functioning was found to be more developed on average than other people of the same age, which could reduce their risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
… within reason!
However, the study also showed that there were limits to the benefits of babysitting in the older population. In fact, if the grandparents looked after the children 5 days a week or more, a reduction in cognitive capacities was observed.
Maintaining social links after retirement
Following retirement, many people can tend to isolate themselves if they do not continue to maintain social links. Social links with the external world help older people, like everyone, to stay in good mental health and to exercise their memory, concentration and other important cognitive functions.
Whatever the chosen activity: babysitting, clubs, outings with friends, hillwalking, etc., it should be practiced regularly but not excessively.
Be sure to guard against isolation, which appears to be an exacerbating factor in Alzheimer’s disease.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can prevent Alzheimers disease and slow down its progression. Here are a few recommendations:
- Practice regular physical activity 3 times a week, for 30 minutes at a time.
- Eat a balanced diet, that is high in fish, fruit and vegetables. Avoid eating overly sweet, fatty or salty foods.
- Sleep for at least 7 to 9 hours a night, or more if your sleep wasn’t restful.
Sleep plays a very important role in the prevention of Alzheimers disease, because it helps eliminate toxins released by the brain during the day, and these same toxins can be at the source of triggering the disease.