Health

Grandparents who care for their grandchildren live longer

On top of a healthy diet, regular exercise and optimism, helping and supporting others can also add years to your life, a study has shown.

Research from the University of Basel in Switzerland showed that grandparents who care for their grandchildren live significantly longer.

Caregiving habits and the longevity of more than 500 people between 70 and 103 years old were studied. Grandparents who acted as occasional caregivers were compared with those who did not.

Also in the group studied were older adults who did not have children or grandchildren but cared for people within their social networks.

The findings showed that those who did not have a role helping others were significantly more likely to die within just five years of the initial testing period.

But it was also noted that too much caregiving leads to some negative physical and mental health consequences, which often result from high levels of chronic stress.Dr Ralph Hertwig, one of the psychologists involved in the study, said in a press release: "Helping shouldn't be misunderstood as a panacea for a longer life... A moderate level of caregiving involvement does seem to have positive effects on health, but ... more intense involvement causes stress, which has negative effects on physical and mental health."

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