A group of researchers from Case Western Reserve University in the US have noticed that grandmothers who raise their grandchildren may struggle with depression and stress.The study tracked and focused on the health and wellbeing of about 240 US grandmothers for 6 1/2 years, to see how the responsibilities of raising grandchildren 16 years and younger impacted on their health over time. The average age of the grandmothers in the study was 57.5 years.
The researchers noticed signs of depression and stress in a majority of the grandmothers in the study. This study is one of the longest-running studies in the US on grandmothers in various family situations, from serving as their grandchildren’s full-time caregivers to those not caring for their grandchildren.
The grandmothers, who averaged 57.5 years old at study onset, were in three caregiving situations: those who are fulltime caregivers for their grandchildren, living in multigenerational homes or non-caregivers. They were randomly selected throughout Ohio, representing rural, suburban and urban backgrounds.
Despite the signs of depression and family stress, researchers also found that the grandmothers, especially those raising grandchildren, were generally open to receiving various forms of help. That implies, Musil said, that grandmothers might be open to resourcefulness training, which has helped to reduce depressive symptoms in grandmothers in pilot studies conducted with Jaclene Zauszniewski.
“They need support from others,” she said, “but the most important thing is to maintain and perhaps develop new cognitive and behavioral skills and approaches for handling some very challenging family issues.”
Are you a grandmother taking care of your grandchildren? How has this responsibility affected you?