Free Press Journal

Bonding with grandkids may prevent depression in elderly

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New York: An emotionally close relationship between grandparents and their grandkids may ward off depression in both, a new study has found.

US researchers found 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 at Boston College.

“The greater emotional support grandparents and adult grandchildren received from one another, the better their psychological health,” Moorman said.

The study also found that giving tangible support to or receiving it from their grandchildren affected the psychological well-being of grandparents but not grandchildren.

Tangible support, also called functional solidarity or instrumental support, includes anything from rides to the store and money to assistance with household chores and advice.

“Grandparents who experienced the sharpest increases in depressive symptoms over time received tangible support, but did not give it,” said Moorman, who co-authored the study with Jeffrey E Stokes, a PhD candidate in sociology at Boston College.

Comparatively, the researchers found 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.

Researchers used data from the Longitudinal Study of Generations, that included seven waves of data collection between 1985 and 2004.

The sample comprised 376 grandparents and 340 grandchildren. The average grandparent 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.

The study was presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.