Grandmothers Become Mentally Sharper by Babysitting Grandchildren

May 28, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. babysit /ˈbeɪˌsɪt/ (v.) – to take care or watch over a child for a period of time
Example: My sister will babysit my son while I am gone.

2. sharp /ʃɑrp/ (adj.) – having the ability to quickly solve problems and understand things
ExampleSharp students often get high grades.

3. decay /dɪˈkeɪ/ (n.) – a decrease or drop in quality
Example: Aging often leads to decay of physical and mental abilities.

4. offspring /ˈɔfˌsprɪŋ/ (n.) – a person’s son or daughter
Example: Some of the parents’ traits are passed on to their offspring.

5. engaged /ɛnˈgeɪdʒd/ (adj.) – being busy or focused on something
Example: My grandmother is currently engaged in cooking and baking classes.


Read the text below.
Researchers claim that grandmothers who babysit their grandkids just once a week are mentally sharper than those who frequently take care of their grandchildren. 

The Australian study aimed to discover why some elderlies have slower mental decay compared to others. Previous studies have shown that mentally challenging tasks improve mental health for seniors. In the recent study, researchers assessed how caring for grandchildren affects the grandmothers’ mental health.

The researchers gathered 186 Australian women who participated before in the Women’s Healthy Aging Project study. All women aged between 57 and 68, but only 120 are grandmothers. They all took three different tests to measure their mental sharpness.

Results showed that grandmothers who babysit for their grandkids once a week got the highest scores in two of the three tests. On the other hand, grandmothers who babysit for over five days a week got the lowest scores in one test that measured memory and mental processing speed.

In addition, the grandmothers who spend more time with their grandkids reportedly feel more pressured by their own sons and daughters. These participants said their own offsprings were more demanding and gave them burdens.

According to Margery Gass [MAHR-juh-ree gas] of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), being socially engaged has good mental effects for older women and lowers the risk of brain disorders. However, she implied that too much interaction with kids might be bad based on the findings.

Gass added that further studies are needed to know more about the health effects of babysitting on older women.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think grandmothers who babysit once a week performed better in the test?
·         How else can grandmothers improve their mental health?

Discussion B

·         What is the role of the grandparents in raising a child? Please discuss your answer.
·         Why do you think some people ask their parents to care for their children?


May 28, 2014