Spending time with grandkids is often described by older adults as one of the best benefits of growing older. But did you know that it can actually help benefit your health, too?
It’s true. This type of socialization, known as “intergenerational,” provides a number of positive effects for both seniors and kids.
Interaction between kids and older adults benefits seniors in multiple ways, including:
- Maintaining an active mind. We can all benefit from keeping our minds active and engaged, but it’s especially important as we age. Seniors can engage their minds in multiple ways when spending time with the younger generation — by storytelling and sharing stories of their childhood, learning new skills from the kids, and learning how to use technology in a cognitively stimulating way.
- Keeping socially active. Did you know that loneliness has been shown to be as dangerous to health as many common medical conditions? In fact, a recent study found that older adults who lacked companionship or felt isolated were more likely to experience decreased abilities and an increased risk of mortality when compared to those who are more socially active.Loneliness has been linked to sleep issues, a depressed immune system and even cognitive decline, making it particularly dangerous.
- Staying physically active. If you’ve been around kids lately — particularly little ones — you know that much time is spent chasing them around.Older adults face the same recommendations for physical activity as younger adults. Guidelines recommend that they get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Activities should include both something to get the heart pumping (cardiovascular activity) and strength training, which helps limit the risk of falling and enhances balance.Spending time with kids provides the perfect opportunity to fit in some activity and stay more active than normal.
Kids also reap the benefits as they learn new and interesting facts about their family members, history and how things “used to be.”
Boosting senior health: Ideas for spending time with kids
By the year 2030, one in five Americans will be age 65 or older. The time is now to start developing intergenerational relationships that can benefit everyone.
But where can you find a common ground — and activities — for both young and old to participate in? We have a few ideas.
- Get out and active. While winter days may not be ideal for spending a ton of time outdoors, there are still plenty of days in Tennessee where it’s warm enough to head outside. Seize the opportunity and spend some time in a local park, or even just walking around the neighborhood. Amp up the fun factor by turning the walk into a scavenger hunt or a chance to explore the wonders of nature.
- Exchange hobbies. Do you love to scrapbook or crochet? Odds are that your little friend has different tastes in activities. Share them with each other! Teach the kids in your life about your hobbies, and then take the opportunity to learn about their favorites, too. You may be surprised just how much you enjoy technology when given the chance.
- Spend time in the kitchen. Have old family recipes you can pass down? Kids love to bake and cook, so take time to teach them the basics.Even the smallest kids can take part if you give them age-appropriate tasks, like pouring dry ingredients or rinsing fruits and veggies.Have friends or family members who don’t get out much? Spend your time with the kids baking up some treats, then deliver them!
- Get your craft on. You may already have a crafty hobby that you could share with a little one. But there are also tons of ideas to be found online! No matter what season we’re in, there are always easy craft ideas that can often be made with a few items that are commonly found in the home.
- Break out the games. Has it been a while since you played a board game? Consider that younger kids may never have played one.Bring out your favorite games and play a round or two. Or pop open a puzzle and get started putting it together. Both types of activities are filled with fun — and boost cognitive development and memory for both generations.
When’s the last time you had a checkup? Has it been so long you can’t remember? Schedule one today! Find a doctor here.