Great news! A study published in 2014 showed that grandmothers who care for their grandchildren one day per week have a better chance of preventing cognitive decline and retaining a healthy memory.
Australian researchers had 186 (post-menopausal) grandmothers take three different tests: one to measure cognitive performance in the areas of working memory, one to measure processing speed, and one that measured executive functioning, or the ability to problem solve and plan ahead.
The researchers found that grandmothers who cared for their grandchildren just one day per week performed better on the tests that measured working memory and processing speed. Conversely, those who cared for their grandchildren five days per week or more did significantly worse on a test that measured attention, working memory, and processing speed.
Social engagement supports good cognitive function and lowers the risk for dementia, yet it seems that too much of a good thing may be worse than no engagement at all.
While spending limited time with your grandchildren, engage them in activities that involve new learning and physical exercise. Go to the park, take a walk to the local library or visit a museum for the day. Physical activity gets your blood pumping and new learning encourages the growth of new brain cells and connections—a win/win scenario for everyone!