Page 30 - Scene Magazine 45-09 September 2020
P. 30

The bond that can be built between grandparent and grandchild is special in a carefree kind of way. They get to play, be silly, enjoy discovering new things, read the same book ten times, roll in the grass, master the art of walking in high heels, dance, sing, and so much more. Grand- parents have the privilege of teaching grandchildren great things without the stress of forcing learning to occur. As a result, grandchildren can learn all sorts of cool stuff without even realizing it. They learn important things too like their letters and numbers, but also love and safety.
Some might look at spending time with their grandchildren as babysitting. Not me. Instead, I look at it as a privilege and an opportunity to share the wonder of the world we live in. It’s a blessing to see curiosity build in their faces, and the joy of discovery in their eyes. I love the excitement in their voices when I hear my grandparent name, “Hey Yanna.” I’m smitten.
It’s only been a few years but I know that spending time with my grandchildren has had a positive and significant impact on me, including my health, and that of “Papa” as well.
This weekend the grandkids came to Yanna and Papa’s house. We made puzzle pieces out of melted crayons, experimented with all the new shapes
we could make as well as how colors change when you mix them. We built
a fort out of cardboard and discovered that flat things can become new objects. And you probably already guessed this but we were able to take our new crayon puzzle pieces and color the outside of our cardboard fort. According to our middle grandchild, “It was far too much to color for just one visit.”
We got to make washable hair dye and see what a rainbow of colors might look like in their hair. And then we went outside. We had a wonderful picnic, spent time spinning in the grass, enjoyed magic carpet rides, and a trip in the wag- on to get ice cream... We all earned it. Even at the ages of two, four, and six they managed to wear masks like pros. My heart grows each moment I spend with my grandchildren.
Here’s the good news, while I have discovered that spending time with my grandchildren is beneficial for me there’s now scientific data to back it up. I’ve gone from anecdotal data to scientific data that says it’s beneficial for our health in more ways than I imagined; it could also be linked to a longer life; an average of five years longer. Bonus!
According to Ralph Hertwig, director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality
at the Max Planck Institute for Human
Development, the benefits grandchildren receive from being cared for by their grandparents is already well established. Their goal instead, was to evaluate the other side of the equation and to deter- mine tangible benefits to the grandparent. And clearly the benefits go in both direc- tions. Note: Primary and custodial care- givers were not included in the study.
In fact, it should be noted that previous studies have found a significant difference when moderate caregiving becomes a full-time responsibility. Those studies have shown that more intense involvement and taking on the role of kinship care causes stress, which can have a negative effect on physical and mental health. Fortu- nately, community resources are available for grandparents that have taken on this added level of care for their precious grandchildren.
Hertwig, the study author, published the results in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior in 2016. Not only those who were caring for their direct grand- children experienced a benefit, but also added that caregiving was linked with longer life even when the care recipient wasn’t a relative, as much as three years longer. This is a great reason for adding preschool programs within the walls of an independent living facility for seniors.
While the author notes that the study

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