Thursday, February 7, 2008

News&Buzz: Single grandmothers' health

Caring for grandchildren generally won't have a negative effect on a grandmom or granddads' well-being, a new study says. But there's one exception: Single grandmothers looking after grandchildren alone report initial declines in some areas of health—particularly depressive symptoms and declines in self-care.

“But those who continued with the arrangements saw a modest improvement, suggesting the negative effect of starting this kind of care giving disappears as the arrangement continues,” wrote researchers from the University of Chicago and three other universities. In this new study, fewer than 3 percent of 13,000 participants were raising their granchildren. (The U.S. Census says more than 200,000 grandparents are primary caregivers to grandchildren.)

There was no evidence of health declines among grandparents who provided other forms of care, such as baby-sitting, for their grandchildren.“These findings suggest that health declines are not an inevitable consequence of grandchild care,” the authors wrote. The authors note that grandparents who provide custodial care reported they were in worse health to begin with, which raises concerns about how long they may be able to provide this care without support and assistance from others.

For more information, visit The University of Chicago's press room.

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