Role of Custodial Caregiving on Grandmother Well-Being

TitleRole of Custodial Caregiving on Grandmother Well-Being
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsRakes, S
UniversityFlorida State University
CityTallahassee, FL
KeywordsCustodial grandmother, Custodial grandparent, grandchildren caregiving, Grandparents

The United States Census estimated that there are 2.4 million grandparents in the United States who are the custodial caregivers of a grandchild (US Census Bureau, 2017). The grandparent caregiving role can strain finances, increase the risk of chronic illness, and strain systems of social support (Hayslip et al., 2017). These difficulties place custodial grandparent caregivers at risk for worse outcomes financially, socially, physically and emotionally than their peers (Hayslip et al., 2017). However, custodial care of a grandchild also has the potential to enrich the lives of both the child and custodial grandparent. Many custodial grandparents report finding great fulfillment in their role (Taylor et al., 2018). Quantitative studies have largely focused on the detrimental role of custodial caregiving on grandparent well-being, while recent qualitative work has demonstrated positive implications of the role (Hayslip et al., 2017; Taylor et al., 2018). The research gap in the quantitative study of positive implications for well-being has also been noted in the larger body of family caregiving literature (Marino et al., 2017). Researchers has focused on only one aspect of well-being, negative affect, while ignoring other aspects of well-being such as personal growth and life satisfaction. This study aimed to (1) compare the effects of custodial caregiving on grandparent well-being compared to their peers, (2) understand the role of adaptive traits and resources in moderating these effects, and (3) examine trajectories of grandparent caregiver well-being over time. I used secondary data from the 2010, 2012, and 2014 waves of the Health and Retirement study (HRS). The HRS is a longitudinal study of adults 50 and older that includes multiple measures of psychological well-being that evaluate constructs such as positive affect, life satisfaction and purpose in life. I used cross-sectional data from 2014 to compare well-being of grandparent caregivers and their peers. I included community dwelling female participants who completed the leave behind psychosocial survey. Nursing home residents were excluded from the analysis, and men were excluded to ensure only one case per household. Longitudinal data from 2010, 2012, and 2014 were utilized to compare well-being trajectories of grandmother caregivers based on their time in the role. Grandmothers with complete psychosocial data for at least one wave were included in this analysis. Custodial grandmothers positive affect and life satisfaction were similar to their peers. Custodial caregiving was associated with decreased physical well-being (OR= .58, p<.01), and purpose in life (b=-.19, p<.05), and increased negative affect (b=.14, p<.05). Perceived support buffered the role of caregiving on negative affect, and grandmother caregivers with high levels of perceived support did not experience more negative affect than their peers. The longitudinal analysis did not reveal differences in well-being based on time in the caregiving role. The findings of this study highlight the importance of incorporating positive measures of well-being in the study of custodial caregiving for a more complete understanding of the role of caregiving on well-being. Custodial caregivers’ positive affect and life satisfaction may be an important area of strength and source of resilience that warrants further exploration. Interventions that target social support are likely to improve positive well-being and reduce negative outcomes.

Citation Key12148