All in the family: the impact of caring for grandchildren on grandparents' health.

TitleAll in the family: the impact of caring for grandchildren on grandparents' health.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsHughes, MElizabeth, Waite, LJ, LaPierre, TA, Luo, Y
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date Published2007 Mar
ISSN Number1079-5014
Call Numbernewpubs20070501_JoGS108.pdf
KeywordsAdaptation, Psychological, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, Caregivers, Child Care, Child, Preschool, Family Relations, Female, Health Status, Humans, Intergenerational Relations, Male, Middle Aged, Parenting, Risk Assessment, Stress, Psychological

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of caring for grandchildren on health behaviors and mental and physical health among older adults.

METHODS: Using a sample of 12,872 grandparents aged 50 through 80 from the Health and Retirement Study, we examined the relationship between stability and change in various types of grandchild care and subsequent health, controlling for covariates and earlier health.

RESULTS: We found no evidence to suggest that caring for grandchildren has dramatic and widespread negative effects on grandparents' health and health behavior. We found limited evidence that grandmothers caring for grandchildren in skipped-generation households are more likely to experience negative changes in health behavior, depression, and self-rated health. We also found some evidence of benefits to grandmothers who babysit.

DISCUSSION: Our findings suggest that the health disadvantages found previously among grandparent caregivers arise from grandparents' prior characteristics, not as a consequence of providing care. Health declines as a consequence of grandchild care appear to be the exception rather than the rule. These findings are important given continuing reliance on grandparents for day care and increasing reliance on grandparents for custodial care. However, the findings should be tempered by the recognition that for a minority of grandparents, coresidential grandchild care may compromise health.

User Guide Notes

Endnote Keywords

Caregiving/Child Care/Health Physical

Endnote ID


Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Citation Key7142
PubMed ID17379680
PubMed Central IDPMC2562755
Grant ListP01 AG018911 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P01 AG018911-020002 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P01 AG 18911 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States