NEW research shows postmenopausal women who cared for their grandchildren one day a week had better memory and faster cognitive speed than those who did not.
But the researchers have a warning about over-using the grandparents' generous nature, noting women who cared for grandchildren five or more days a week had significantly slower processing speed and planning scores, possibly because they felt exhausted.
The University of Melbourne research came from the Womens Healthy Ageing Project - a longitudinal prospective study of more than 20 years in Melbourne women.
WHAP director Cassandra Szoeke said it was important to study the impact of grand-parenting on cognition.
Associate Professor Szoeke said social engagement, positive mood enhancement, ongoing learning and mental stimulation all had been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting Alzheimer's Disease.
"These are all important elements for warding off dementia and grandparenting contains all these components," she said.
Associate Professor Szoeke said there was an increasing reliance on grandparents for childcare assistance in dual income families, so it was important to examine the impact for grandparents.
She said her colleagues were now looking further into this report that women looking after their grandchildren five days a week who reported feeling more demand from their children than other women because anxiety and stress could impair cognitive performance.
"Older people make significant contributions to our community, with the number of people who will live to over 100 estimated to rise globally by 1000% by 2050. The time to explore healthy ageing is now," she said.
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