In the old days, families settled closer to one another. Children grew up within their community, and stay there to raise their own kids alongside their relatives. Nowadays, however, it is more common for children to grow up and move to a different state to pursue a career and eventually start a family.
The life of a modern grandparent is, often, a lonely one. They have to settle with the occasional phone calls and holiday visits to see their children and grandchildren. They are not around for the important moments and milestones of their own family.
It is tempting for older adults to uproot their own lives and move closer to their children and grandchildren. However, is it a good idea?
How the Grandchildren will Benefit
There is a growing body of research that looks at the impact of the presence of grandparents in the lives of children. This does not come as a surprise considering that, across the United States, grandparents are the primary caretaker of 2.6 million children — or 10 percent of all kids across the country.
Researchers find that having their grandparents around more often is an advantage.
A survey from 2008 of nearly 1,600 children aged 11 to 16 years old in England and Wales found that children turn to their grandparents to help them solve their problems or to navigate adverse events in life.
The positive impact of the presence of grandparents is more pronounced to children whose parents are separated or divorced. They discovered that grandparents buffered the difficulties the children experience by providing a calming presence and bringing stability despite the major life change.
Another study from 2017 found that, when a grandparent lives at home, children are overall healthier. The researchers looked at the well-being of children who were raised by working mothers.
They discovered that, when a grandparent lives with them, children are more likely to eat their breakfast regularly and less likely to have a sedentary lifestyle. They also have a healthier BMI.
Other studies on the topic also found that grandparents teach children to become more engaged in civic matters and prevent the young ones from having a negative perception of old people (ageism).
How the Grandparents will Benefit
For grandparents, the benefits are obvious. Moving guarantees that they can be around more often and be a constant presence in their children and grandchildren’s lives. They will be there for every holiday and birthday, school event, milestones and achievements no matter how small or major, and a lot more. It means that they can give their children a helping hand and truly get to know their grandchildren on a deeper level.
Moreover, being around their family helps seniors maintain healthy mental well-being. In one long-term survey of study that spanned several generations, when young adults develop a strong relationship with their elders, both experience fewer symptoms of depression.
Depression, as everyone knows, is common in the elderly population. Many seniors end up suffering from mental health issues due to loneliness and social isolation — two things that grandparents can avoid by moving closer to their children and grandchildren.
This was further proven by another study. Seniors who got to spend more time with their grandchildren while the latter are still very young had better overall mental health. The bonding moments they shared stayed off the risk of depression among the older adults.
Moving to another home is always challenging, more so for seniors. There are other things to consider such as their own health and whether they would need some help with their day-to-day functions. Those who continue to live independently can choose to move to retirement communities or senior living apartments where they can assist with maintaining their home and other menial chores. An experienced senior living advisor can assess an older adult’s situation and recommend the appropriate housing or facility.
It is important that seniors consider where they are moving exactly, and how else they will use their free time once the grandchildren go to school and while the parents are at work. They may want to be closer to places where they can practice or be engaged with their hobbies or meet other retirees. A test run will give everyone involved an idea of how things will be like once grandma and/or grandpa are living closer to their grandchildren.
Seniors make the decision to relocate closer to their children and grandchildren to become more involved in their family’s lives. The decision can be beneficial to everyone involved. The grandchildren grow up with a healthy mind and body. Meanwhile, the grandparents lower their risk of depression. However, it is still a major move that should be given careful consideration.