When my wife and I babysat our two grandchildren this past weekend, we knew we would have fun. But we didn’t know we would be boosting our brain power as well.

A Little Babysitting Is Great for You…

A report from Australia shows that moderate babysitting of grandchildren reduces chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, which has been published by the official journal of the North American Menopause Society, followed 120 grandparents in Australia. It found that those that babysat one day each week scored higher on a range of cognitive tests.

Like with Most Things Moderation is Key

However, the study also found that excessive babysitting might have the opposite effect on grandparents. Those grandparents in the study who babysat five days or more a week actually achieved lower scores on the tests.

The study supported previous findings that grandparents who babysit a few times a week on average report increased levels of satisfaction, which is linked to an increased feeling of purpose and the receiving of love.

But what if you don’t have any grandchildren or live too far from them to babysit?

Not to worry. Experts say you can receive many of the same benefits by being active in a part-time job, social group, or volunteering, all of which bolster your sense of life purpose. The key is staying involved with people, projects, and organizations that make you feel needed and useful.

More Things to Keep Your Brain Bright and Healthy

If you are concerned about dementia and Alzheimer’s (and who isn’t), here are 4 more things you could be doing now to keep your brain healthy, especially if you are 60 years old or older.

Eat and Drink with Your Brain in Mind

Keep your alcohol intake moderate. Drink coffee and apple juice. Eat dark chocolate. Never pass up vegetables and fruits – especially blueberries, strawberries, spinach, and avocados. Go crazy with cinnamon. If you like Indian food, have at it, especially yellow curry with turmeric.

Be a Busy Body

Walk as much as possible. Take stairs whenever you can if you are physically able. If sitting, keep you foot fidgeting and your fingers tapping. Try simple balancing exercises or yoga. All movement is good movement when it comes to the brain.

Take a Hike

Try to find a peaceful area like a park or a nature preserve for your walks. Walking in nature offers the bonus of relaxation, another good thing for your brain.

Keep on Learning

Consider taking an adult education course. If you are still working, take any new on-the-job training you can. Google something that interests you and begin a self-study. Read a book, do a puzzle, undertake any mental activity that actively engages your mind.

What types of things not listed here do you undertake regularly to keep your brain engaged? If you do babysit your grandchildren, what do you find are the best rewards for you? Have you encountered any problems that you think you should warn others about?

Dave PriceDave Price is a retired journalist and educator now establishing a freelance writing/speaking/consulting practice in Atlanta. He’s specializing in writing about the Baby Boom generation, classic rock, aging, and grandparenting. In between touring around the Georgia area with his wife of 43 years, playing with his grandkids, dining on great Southern food, and napping, he’s writing long-form articles and publishing a few blogs which could lead to a series of nonfiction books. Please visit Dave’s author page and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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