A study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that unlike other apes, humans often possess gene variants that protect against late-in-life diseases. Those variations keep us living long past our child-rearing days are over. But why? What's the evolutionary point of living well into our 90s if we have kids in our 20s? Researchers say there is evidence that grandkids help humans live longer.
While science is great and all, and grandkids may help keep us alive and kickin', the real unsung heroes here are grandparents. Intergenerational relationships are hugely important to our family dynamic, and for economic, social, or whatever reason, more and more families are choosing to live with grandparents.
Grandparents can play important roles in childcare that have huge developmental benefits for children. Their involvement benefits parents as well. Grandparents are able to shoulder some of the burden and stress of child-rearing, leaving parents time for their sanity, or, in the olden days, hunter-gathering. But, if grandparents are not healthy, they add to that burden. Researchers suggest that those evolutionary gene variants keep grandparents healthy longer so that they can help their family, rather than hurt it. Basically, grandparents rule and we'd be lost without them.
Here are more ways grandparents keep families hip, in check, and functional.