Everyone loves to spoil their grandkids. Too much sugar, too many presents, too lenient – grandkids are a chance for seniors to cut loose and not worry about proper parenting. But grandkids are more than just an excuse to indulge, they can also help seniors keep their minds and bodies sharp.
The next time the grandkids come over, in between sugary treats and toy shopping, take some time to do the following:
Studies have shown that staying social is a great way to keep your mind sharp. Talking with friends and family has been shown to prevent depression and improve cognition in aging Americans. Social interaction has also been linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
So when your grandchild comes for a visit, don’t turn on a video (how many times can you watch Frozen, anyway?). Have an unplugged visit. Learn what they’re doing in school, have them make up a story to tell you, share your memories and funny stories from your childhood. Interaction will strengthen your bond and hone your cognitive processes.
Story time is another great way to exercise your brain. Unlike holding a conversation, which exercises the recall and speech sections of your brain, reading requires a different set of skills. Taking time to read has been shown to reduce stress in seniors, as well as provide mental stimulation and improve memory.
Pick out a story with your grandchild and teach them the joys of getting lost in a good book. The added bonus of reading is that it can help your grandkids focus on paying attention and provides a quiet activity you can do almost anywhere.
All talked out? Then get outside for a game of catch. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that a simple game of catch was a great way for seniors to improve their balance. By tossing a ball around for a few hours each week, seniors were able to improve their anticipatory postural control, which helps maintaining balance.
As you teach your grandkid the finer points of hand-eye coordination, you are teaching your body the basics of fall prevention.
At Capital City Nurses, we know that time with your grandkids is precious, so why not make the most out of it by choosing activities that can help you and your grandchild flourish?