Role of grandparenting in postmenopausal women's cognitive health: results from the Women's Healthy Aging Project

Menopause. 2014 Oct;21(10):1069-74. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000236.


Objective: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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).

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology
  • Australia
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Postmenopause / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Women's Health*