Being a grandparent is one of life’s greatest joys. Especially during the holiday season, there’s nothing like having the kiddos over for winter break at Grandma’s, baking up cookies or doing puzzles, and just spending some quality time. Parents get a much needed break, and grandparents benefit, too! Findings from a new study show that grandparents who help care for their grandchildren are less likely to struggle with loneliness.
Loneliness is now being regarded as an epidemic, especially among elderly folks. With this in mind, researchers from the German Center of Gerontology asked questions about personal well-being for the first time when collecting data for the German Aging Study back in 2014. Now, researchers have put together some valuable insight from what they saw.
For the research, about 3,800 subjects were grandparents, and 1,125 of those reported being active grandparents who took on caretaker roles. From the data, the researchers concluded that those who reported taking care of their grandchildren experienced less loneliness and social isolation overall. Even more, active grandparents also reported having larger social networks of six people on average — meaning that their close-knit circles were larger — compared with those who were not active grandparents.
The scientists tried to take into account factors like health, physical activity, and marital status, but they didn’t have other data like how far grandparents lived from their family or how often they provided childcare. That being said, they emphasize that this data doesn’t point directly to causation (in other words, we don’t know for sure if being an active grandparent directly makes people less lonely). However, it does suggest a relationship between active grandparenting and general well-being.
What’s more, these results are further evidence that social interaction and connection is important for our health and happiness as we age. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Being a grandparent is a special and important role. We get to see our little ones grow up and be a part of it all. It helps us feel loved and it helps us give love. If that doesn’t give life meaning, we don’t know what does.