July 12, 2016
Strong Grandparent-Adult Grandchild Relationships Reduce Depression for Both
A new study indicates that grandparents and grandchildren have real, measurable effects on each other’s psychological well-being long into grandchildren’s adulthood.
“We found that an emotionally close grandparent-adult grandchild relationship was associated with fewer symptoms of depression for both generations,” said Sara M. Moorman, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the Institute on Aging at Boston College.
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Moorman will present the study at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. “The greater emotional support grandparents and adult grandchildren received from one another, the better their psychological health.”
Furthermore, the study revealed that giving tangible support to or receiving it from their grandchildren affected the psychological well-being of grandparents but not grandchildren. Also called functional solidarity or instrumental support, tangible support includes everything from a ride to the doctor to a helping hand with household chores and advice. In comparison, the researchers discovered that grandparents who both gave and received tangible support experienced the fewest symptoms of depression over time.
“Therefore, encouraging more grandparents and adult grandchildren to engage in this type of exchange may be a fruitful way to reduce depression in older adults,” said Moorman. Also indicated in the study was that helping older adults remain functionally independent could aid their psychological well-being, says Moorman.
“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.”