Grandparents Who Babysit Live Longer..according to science

Grandparents are so sweet, they dote on their grandkids, and they have lots of love to share! But unfortunately, with their old age comes a lot of potential problems, typically to do with physical and mental decline. It can be challenging to think of the difficulties your lovely grandparents face as they grow older.

But did you know that grandparents can potentially extend their lifespans just by being grandparents? Spending regular amounts of time with their little ones can improve their overall longevity – and that’s a scientifically proven fact!



The study concerning this exciting phenomenon is entitled “Caregiving within and beyond the family is associated with lower mortality for the caregiver: A prospective study.” It was published in Evolution and Human Behavior in 2016. The authors, in alphabetical order, are:

  • David A. Coall – Edith Cowan University and University of Western Australia
  • Denis Gerstorf – Humboldt University
  • Ralph Hertwig – Max Planck Institute for Human Development
  • Sonja Hilbrand (lead author) – University of Basel and Max Planck Institute for Human Development

The study was of a prospective cohort variety. Its aim was simple: to determine the relationship between life expectancy and caregiving duties provided by grandparents, whether to their relatives or others. But why focus on this specific topic?

A number of studies have indicated that just being a grandparent can have positive benefits on overall health. But at the same time, there are conflicting studies that suggest that some grandparents wind up dealing with the opposite. This is especially the case when they wind up needing to care for their grandchildren from prolonged periods. (1)


This study was conducted with a simple method over multiple years. Here are some details about the study methods.


Researchers referred to Berlin Aging Study data, also known as BASE. They collected and recorded information regarding health details and social interactions and conditions. They also recorded information regarding the younger family of grandparents.

Researchers selected participants within the BASE system randomly. They pulled the participant data from the records of the registration office in West Berlin. They were all aged 70 or older, and there were 516 of them in total.


Participants would attend medical examinations and interviews, each conducted in either their own homes or with their doctors in hospitals or other practice locations. Some individuals were grandparents while others were not, allowing for useful comparison data.


Participants were asked to provide details regarding their caregiving activities in the past year. “Caregiving” in the context of this study was described as the act of spending time with a grandchild – whether to watch over them or for bonding time – without that child’s parents being present.


Participants attended these tests and interviews every two years beginning the year 1990 and ending in 2009. As such, the study was conducted over the long span of 20 years, and it reached completion in 2016.


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