Caring grandparents can live as much as five years longer.
Caring grandparents can live as much as five years longer. Maria Teijeiro

Live 5 years longer, just by caring for your grandkids

CARING for your grandchildren will help improve longevity among older people by at least five years, researchers are now claiming.

An Edith Cowan University research report states half the study interviewees, who provided occasional care for their grandchildren or other members of the community, lived for about five more years after first being interviewed.

However, half of the grandparents who didn't provide childcare died within the first five years after the initial interview.

ECU's School of Medical and Health Sciences Dr David Coall said the research provides a link between caring and longevity in the older generation.

"However, we can only speculate as to why," he said. 

"Previous research points to helping behaviour as a stress buffer which involves, for example, the hormone oxytocin which can strengthen bonding between people. 

"This link could be a mechanism deeply rooted in our evolutionary past when help with childcare was crucial for the survival of the human species." 

Dr Coall said benefits of caring can also extend beyond grandchildren.

"Older people who cared for their own adult children or other members of the community showed the same increase in longevity," he said. 

But, the researchers point out that full-time caring can have a negative physical and mental health impact.

"It is very important that every individual decides for themselves what 'moderate amounts of help' means," Dr Coall said. 

"As long as you do not feel stressed about the intensity of help you provide you may be doing something good for others as well as for yourself."

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