Effects of Social Relations on Mortality in the Context of Grandparenting

TitleEffects of Social Relations on Mortality in the Context of Grandparenting
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsJang, H
Academic DepartmentSocial Work
Number of Pages131
Date Published04/2019
UniversityUniversity of Pittsburgh
CityPittsburgh, PA
KeywordsCaregiving, Grandparenting, Mortality, Social relations

Issues of health and well-being have received considerable attention as a way to help grandparent caregivers. There is growing evidence that grandparenting is beneficial to grandparent caregivers? health, yet acting as grandparent caregiver also is detrimental to health and social relations when a grandparent provides an extensive level of care to grandchildren. The extent to which grandparent caregiving benefits or harms the health of a grandparent is still unknown; mortality specifically has not been systematically studied. Moreover, although altruistic behaviors towards others have been shown to have beneficial effects on caregivers? health in general, there is little information regarding social relations of grandparent caregivers and their impact on mortality. This study aims to investigate the roles of different aspects of social relations among community-dwelling older adults, examining whether aspects of social relations, including social networks, received functional support aid, and perceived support quality mediate the association between grandparent caregiving and mortality. The data were drawn from the 2008 and 2014 Health and Retirement Study (N=1,196). Results of survival analyses indicate that custodial and co-parenting grandparents had higher all-cause mortality risks relative to occasional babysitting grandparents over the subsequent 6-year observation period; however, for the custodial grandparents, the associations were not significant after health, health behaviors, and depressive symptoms were added into the model. Latent class analyses were conducted to identify the social network typology with seven indicators of interpersonal relationships and activities. Results from the latent class analysis identified four clusters: diverse, friend-focused, family-focused, and restricted/ non-friends. Specifically, family-focused network was significantly associated with increased mortality risks among grandparents. Custodial grandparents received more functional support but perceived less positive support, which further enhanced the negative associations between custodial grandparenting status and increased mortality risk. This study suggests that community-based support to strengthen social networks may be beneficial to older grandparents and that improved positive relationship quality matters for older adults? well-being.

Citation Keypittir37018