Among the study’s subjects were grandparents who were not the primary caregivers for their grandchildren, but still took care of them on an occasional basis. The researchers also looked at people without children who took care of other people. The researchers found that grandparents who watched their grandchildren, and older adults who helped their adult children, were more likely to be alive 10 years after their first interview at the start of the study . Among the people who did not provide this type of care, half of the group died five years after the start of the study .
Several studies have looked at the link between grandparents and longer living.Some studies have shown caregiving can improve a grandparent’s cognitive functioning and risk for depression. But the authors of the new study have shown that caregiv ing may provide a health benefit for people even outside of family ties.
Among older adults who provided care for someone in their social network, about half lived for seven years after the initial interview. The people who didn’t only lived an average of four years later.
The researchers believe positive emotions experienced from helping others may combat the negative effects of emotions like stress. More research will be needed to understand the full mechanisms that underline the health benefits of helping others.