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The Health Benefits of Having (and Being) Grandparents

For kids, grandparents provide stability, safety, wisdom and fun. In return, caring for grandchildren can help stave off depression, boost social connections and keep older adults mentally sharp. Research shows proven health benefits – along with some challenges – from this important family relationship.

Emotional closeness between adult grandchildren and their grandparents protects against depression for both, according to a June 2016 study from Boston University. The study, which used data from a long-term survey of families spanning several generations between 1985 and 2004, suggests that when young adults and their elders enjoy strong relationships, both suffer fewer symptoms of depression.

Spending quality time with grandchildren while they're children improves mental health, too, according to a 2014 study from the Journal of the American Gerontological Society. It linked having more bonding moments to lower risk of depression among grandparents.

As for kids, grandparents are great at calming them when they're ailing and teaching and playing with them when they're well, says Susan Newman, a social psychologist and author of "Little Things Mean a Lot: Creating Happy Memories with Your Grandchildren."

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