Grandparents, grandkids help boost each other's well-being
A new study probes the lasting impact of healthy relations between grandparents and their grandchildren. (EdBockStock /shutterstock)
Published Friday, August 16, 2013 10:41AM EDT
A study announced this week finds that both grandparents and adult grandchildren play key roles in the mental well-being of both.
Researchers from Boston College in the U.S. looked at 376 grandparents and 340 grandchildren, tracking their mental health from 1985 to 2004. Findings were presented August 12 at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York.
Results showed that grandparents and adult grandchildren who felt emotionally close to each other experienced fewer symptoms of depression.
The average grandparent in the study was born in 1917 and the average grandchild in 1963, making them 77 years old and 31 years old, respectively, at the midpoint of the study in 1994.
"We found that an emotionally close grandparent-adult grandchild relationship was associated with fewer symptoms of depression for both generations," said Sara Moorman, professor of sociology. "The greater emotional support grandparents and adult grandchildren received from one another, the better their psychological health."
In the study, participants responded to survey questions every few years about how often they helped each other, such as with housework or giving or receiving car rides, as well as how well they got along.
Among the subjects, grandparents who offered advice, paid for meals from time to time, and felt independent had fewer depressive symptoms, which suggests that a two-way supportive relationship is best.
"Most of us have been raised to believe that the way to show respect to older family members is to be solicitous and to take care of their every need," Moorman said. "But all people benefit from feeling needed, worthwhile, and independent. In other words, let granddad write you a check on your birthday, even if he's on Social Security and you've held a real job for years now."