Strong, affectionate bonds with grandchildren can increase longevity for grandparents. In fact, those bonds could be the very cause of the longer lifespans humans enjoy, according to a study recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When primates reach the end of their reproductive years, they are also near the end of their lifespan. That is not the case for humans, with women typically enjoying a lifespan that extends decades beyond menopause.
Feel Better, Live Longer
A study presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association that followed participants for two decades found both grandparents and grandchildren enjoyed significant mental health benefits when they shared a good relationship, including lower stress levels and better cognitive health. Researchers have found that strong relationships with grandchildren can translate into better physical health for grandparents, including lower rates of cardiovascular disease, improved immune system function, and increased longevity.
As New Hampshire senior home care professionals have recently learned, relationships with grandchildren may have had an evolutionary role in the lengthening of the human lifespan. Humans and their genetically closest primates share all but 2 percent of their DNA, yet humans have a much longer lifespan. Researchers found that human DNA has gene variants that provide protection against diseases that strike later in life, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which primate DNA doesn’t have.
Medical researchers suggest that natural selection aided the evolution of disease-resisting variants and other genetic differences that increased human lifespan beyond that of the other primates. Grandchildren of healthier, longer-living grandmothers had an advantage over other children. Their grandmothers could help their mothers care for and gather food for them, making them more likely to survive and pass their genes on. Thus, a longer life span eventually evolved into a human trait.
For more information on promoting senior wellness, reach out to Home Care Assistance. In addition to part-time and live-in care, we are a trusted provider of New Hampshire dementia care for seniors with advanced conditions. Find out how we can help your loved one maintain a happy, healthy life in the comfort of home by calling (603) 471-3004.