Spending time with grandchildren can be one of the most rewarding experiences of growing older. Grandkids are awfully cute, and spoiling them is practically a grandparent’s duty. And watching grandchildren grow, take their first steps, and learn is very gratifying. But it turns out that spending time with grandchildren isn’t just fun – it also has very important health benefits for grandma and grandpa.
A recent study published in the journal Menopause found that spending time with grandchildren just one day a week could actually lower grandmothers’ risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders. In this study, the researchers tested the cognitive abilities of 186 women between the ages of 57-68, 102 of whom were grandmothers. They found that women who spend at least one day per week babysitting their grandchildren scored the highest on the tests. But they also found that those women who spent five days a week or more taking care of their grandchildren scored the lowest. They suggested that this was because these grandmothers felt their own children were demanding too much of them. The resulting emotional distress could have impacted their cognitive function.
So what does that mean for grandparents? The social interaction and enjoyment gained from spending time with grandchildren matters in terms of emotional well-being and mental ability – but there’s a limit to its effectiveness. If grandparents are being relied on as caregivers too much, ultimately it could have a negative impact on their quality of life and overall mental health. Grandparents should spend time with their grandchildren and get all of the benefits of doing so. But they should also make sure they are taking care of their own needs and looking out for their own emotional well-being.
For older adults, eating right provides numerous benefits, including improved mental capacity, better immune function, more energy, and faster recovery times from illnesses. Good nutrition keeps the body healthy and strong, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, bone loss, and diabetes. Good nutrition also helps keep the mind sharp and can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. And a wholesome diet provides more energy and improves mood and self-esteem. Here’s a short guide to nutrition for older people:
Women over the age of fifty who are not very active need about 1600 calories a day. That number goes up to about 1800 calories for somewhat active women and 2000 calories for very active women. Men who are over 50 need about 2000 calories a day. Men over 50 who are somewhat active need between 2200-2400 calories a day, while very active men need about 2800 calories a day. These numbers depend on height and weight as well, so they should consult with a physician for precise figures.
Foods older persons need
- Fruit whole fruits are preferred to juices, as fiber and vitamins are more available in them. A variety of fruits is important to getting a full complement of vitamins.
- Vegetables at least 2 cups of vegetables daily. Leafy greens like kale and spinach are rich in antioxidants and calcium. Again, variety is important.
- Grains whole grains are much better than processed white flour because they have more nutrients and more fiber. Try to select bread, cereal, and pasta that have the words “whole grain” in the ingredient list.
- Protein older adults who don’t have kidney disease or diabetes need a daily serving of about 25 grams of protein per 50 pounds of body weight. Rather than relying only on red meat for protein, try to vary your sources. Fish, legumes and beans, and nuts are all excellent sources of protein.