Older people who help and support others are also doing themselves a favor, according to a new study.
An international research team found that grandparents who care for their grandchildren live on average longer than grandparents who do not.
For the study, the researchers conducted analyzes of more than 500 people between the ages of 70 and 103 years old, based on data from the Berlin Aging Study collected between 1990 and 2009.
The researchers were also able to show that this positive effect of care on mortality was not limited to helping and caring for the family. The analysis showed that elderly people without children who provided emotional support to others, for example, also benefited. Half of these helpers lived for another seven years, while non-helpers lived only for another four years.
“But helping should not be misinterpreted as a panacea for a longer life,” said Ralph Hertwig, director of the Center for Rational Adaptation at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. “ A moderate level of health care involvement appears to have positive health effects . But previous studies have shown that more intense involvement causes stress, which has negative effects on physical and mental health “.
“It seems plausible that the development of the pro-social behavior of parents and grandparents towards their relatives left their mark on the human body in terms of the neural and hormonal system that subsequently laid the foundations for the evolution of cooperation and altruistic behavior towards non -relatives, ”said Sonja Hilbrand, a doctoral student in the department of psychology at the University of Basel.