Harvard Women's Health Watch

Caring for the grandkids could improve your brainpower

Want to get a little mental boost? Spend some quality time with the grandchildren—but not too much time. A new study from Australia finds that hanging out with the little ones once a week is good for your mental acuity. The study, published April 9, 2014, in the journal Menopause, included 186 women, ages 57 to 68.

The women took three different tests of memory and mental processing speed. Those who watched their grandkids one day a week performed highest on two out of the three tests. However, women in the study who watched their grandkids five days a week or more actually scored worse on tests of mental function. "We know that older women who are socially engaged have better cognitive function and a lower risk of developing dementia later, but too much of a good thing just might be bad," Dr. Margery Gass, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, said in a statement.

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