Preserving aging cognition improves quality of life and delays dementia onset. Previous studies have shown that social engagement can maintain cognition; however, none has examined the effects of grandparenting, an important role among postmenopausal women. This study aims to examine the role of grandparenting in cognition among postmenopausal women.
Participants were 186 Australian women from the longitudinal prospective Women’s Healthy Aging Project. Cognition was assessed using the Symbol-Digit Modalities Test (SDMT), California Verbal Learning Test, and Tower of London.
Amount of time spent minding grandchildren predicted differences in SDMT performance (P < 0.01). The highest cognitive scores for most tests were seen in participants who minded grandchildren for 1 day/week. Minding grandchildren for 1 day/week was also a significant positive predictor of California Verbal Learning Test immediate recall performance (P < 0.05). However, minding grandchildren for 5 days or more per week predicted lower SDMT performance (P < 0.05).
The data suggest that the highest cognitive performance is demonstrated by postmenopausal women who spend 1 day/week minding grandchildren; however, minding grandchildren for 5 days or more per week predicts lower working memory performance and processing speed. These results indicate that highly frequent grandparenting predicts lower cognitive performance.