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How Grandkids Can Increase Senior Longevity

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 9:00 am on

At Sonoma County Home Care Assistance, we know firsthand how much most seniors enjoy spending time with their grandchildren. It’s also safe to assume that most people strive to live long, productive lives. Now there’s research suggesting grandchildren could play a role in achieving this goal, and the proof may be in your genes.

Later Life Purpose

Grandparents are often respected members of the family unit because of their ability to provide wisdom and nurture younger relatives. Now researchers have found gene variants that lower the risk of common health issues often associated with old age, including diabetes and heart disease. Such genetic protection may exist to keep humans living longer so they can provide valuable contributions to future generations.

Selective Genetics in Humans

The genes identified by scientists aren’t unique to humans. However, the protective trait is exclusive to humans. It’s possible that the process of evolution has allowed this trait to remain in humans to help people survive long enough to play a vital role in the care of their grandchildren.

The Hunter-Gatherer Connection

A study in the ’90s applied the grandparent theory to the classic hunter-gatherer concept. The theory suggests grandparents once helped search for food to ensure that their grandchildren received the proper nourishment to foster healthy development and growth. This assistance from the grandparents allowed the mother to focus on maintaining the species.

Researchers note that evolutionary variations don’t always have an obvious rhyme or reason, and the genetic adaption may serve an entirely different purpose altogether. There are exceptions to the theory, most notably the genetic predisposition for some seniors to develop conditions like Alzheimer’s, which can limit their role in helping care for grandchildren. Regardless of the validity of the genetic link, there’s no denying that spending time with grandchildren can be a positive and important experience for grandparents.

Everyday tasks can grow more challenging with age, making it harder or more tiring to spend time with little ones. If you or an aging relative could use help running errands, preparing nutritious meals, or completing light housekeeping tasks, turn to Home Care Assistance. We provide hourly, respite, and live-in senior home care in Sonoma County to ensure seniors have the help and support needed to remain, safe, happy, and healthy in the comfort of home. Learn more by calling us today at (707) 843.4368. We look forward to speaking with you.