If you live in the same city or area as your grandchildren, you have a ready-made cognitive health booster right around the corner. An Australian study of post-menopausal women showed that grandmothers who spend one day a week with their grandchildren have higher cognitive scores than those who don’t. But there’s a caveat to this excellent news: grandmothers who spend five days a week or more with their grandchildren do worse on cognitive tests, as many full-time stay-at-home parents of young children might have been able to tell you without any studies.
The point is to interact with the grandchildren, not just sit and watch TV with them. So to that end, here are some grandparenting ideas:
- Go on a nature walk together - you’ll get the brain-boost of both exercise and stress relief as well.
- Build a world out of blocks and figurines. Talk about the world and how it functions. Is there a police force? Are there stores? Children love to make-believe.
- Do an art project together. Creating art is a good stress reliever, too.
- Read a book together.
- Have a dance party! Again, you’ll get exercise (and joy) out of this as well.
- Play a game of chess together. This will also challenge your brain.
- Visit a museum, talk about the paintings.
- Burn, K. F., Henderson, V. W., Ames, D., Dennerstein, L., & Szoeke, C. (2014). Role of grandparenting in postmenopausal women’s cognitive health: results from the Women's Healthy Aging Project. Menopause 21(10), 1069–1074. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000236