Yes, many of us are on the job -- and weathering the storm! A new study of 13,000 grandparents between the ages of 50 and 80 found that 29 percent of the grandmothers and 22 percent of grandfathers provided at least 50 hours of care per year for grandkids who don't live with them. And they're faring well. Apparently grandchildren agree with us. This study debunked earlier findings that had showed that the health of grandmothers who cared for their grandchildren was a casualty of the arrangement.
Only a small percentage of grandparents (fewer than 3 percent) give primary care, that is, they're taking care of children whose parents are not in the home. And for these grands, health often has declined when they were just starting to take care of grandkids. This could be because usually when grandparents take over the parenting role, it's unexpected and often for a stressful reason. So the adjustment takes a toll -- but even these arrangements don't bring lasting negative results for health. Once grandmothers continue skipped-generation care, they get healthier again. So overall, the news is good.
And for the majority of us, whose care for our grandkids consists of babysitting -- aside from those viruses that the kids bring home starting in preschool, we stay healthy. Must be all those smiles from the little guys and even the bigger ones!
The study, by Waite, LaPierre, and Luo, appeared in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Science.