Physical and mental health status of American grandparents providing extensive child care to their grandchildren.
ABSTRACT to compare the physical, mental, and functional health status of grandparents providing extensive care to grandchildren (30+ hours per week or 90+ nights per year) with that of custodial grandparents, noncaregivers, and two categories of less intensive care providers.
Data on a subsample of 3260 respondents to the National Survey of Families and Households who reported being grandparents during the 1992 to 1994 interviews were analyzed. Chi-square tests, 1-way ANOVAs, and multiple regression analyses compared self-reported functional health limitations, depressive symptoms, and change in self-reported health status and depression for extensive caregivers (223), custodial grandparents (173), and 3 other types of grandparents providing less or no child care.
Extensive caregivers had levels of depressive symptoms comparable to those of custodial caregivers and significantly higher than those of noncaregivers and less intense care providers. One in 5 extensive caregivers had clinically relevant levels of depressive symptoms. Two out of every 5 extensive caregivers had at least 1 limitation in activities of daily living.
Providing extensive care for a grandchild was associated with elevated levels of depression. Physicians should be alert to family role changes and symptoms of depression in their older patients.