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Grandmothers Who Raise Grandchildren At Risk for Depression

Update Date: Aug 22, 2013 12:52 PM EDT

In today's society, more parents are choosing to work due to financial means and personal goals. Since parents are working more, grandparents often step in to help raise their grandkids. A recent study found that seeing grandparents could reduce one's risk of depression. However, in a new study, researchers are reporting that for grandmothers who raise their grandkids, they might be at risk of depression.

In this study, researchers from the Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing found that grandmothers who watched their grandkids on a full-time basis might have depressive symptoms that are going unnoticed and untreated. According to the U.S. Census data, around 6.3 grandmothers, equivalent to 5.3 percent of all households in the United States are the primary caretaker of their grandchildren. In around one million of these situations, the parents do not reside in the same home as the grandmother and grandchildren.

The research team, headed by Carol Musil, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, a professor of nursing, examined the health and wellbeing of 240 grandmothers. Some of the participants were fulltime guardians of their grandchildren and lived in multigenerational homes. Grandmothers who were not caregivers were also a part of the study. The grandmothers, with the average age of 57.5, were tracked for six and a half years and resided throughout Ohio. The grandmothers who were caregivers took care of grandchildren who were 16-years-old or younger. For the first three years of the study, the researchers administered annual physical and mental surveys. These surveys were then given two more times within two to two and a half years a part by the end of the study.

"Although we expected the primary caregiver grandmothers raising grandchildren would have more strain and depressive symptoms," Musil said. "We were surprised at how persistent these were over the years examined in the study."

Despite finding that grandmothers who were caregivers had more depressive symptoms, the researchers also discovered that these grandmothers were generally more open to receiving help. With these new findings, the researchers hope that grandmothers at risk for full-blown depression get treated. The study was published in Nursing Outlook, which is a journal from the American Academy of Nursing and the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science

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