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Raising Grandkids Stresses Grandmothers

But most say benefits for family make it worth it

FRIDAY, Nov. 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Grandmothers responsible for caring for or raising grandchildren suffer more stress and depression than grandmothers without those responsibilities, according to an ongoing study at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

The four year-study of 450 Ohio grandmothers, which began in 2001 and will conclude in 2005, is designed to examine the effect of caregiving on their health.

"These are older women who may have health needs of their own. So caring for a grandchild who may have health problems, developmental challenges or an increased need for care creates additional stress for these grandparents," study leader Carol Musil, an associate professor of nursing, said in a prepared statement.

She noted that the age of the grandchildren can be a factor. Younger children are more physically demanding, but grandparents often have to expend more psychological and emotional energy on older children.

Still, there are ways to reduce this stress. Previous research found that caregiver grandmothers had better health if they took a pro-active, planned approach to taking care of their grandchildren, rather than ignoring problems, or reacting to them as they occur.

Many caregiver grandmothers say the challenges are offset by the rewards for their family.

"The grandmothers told us that no matter how tired, how stressed or how challenged they were with the care of their grandchildren, they would do anything possible to provide the best outcomes for these children," Musil said.

More information

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers advice for caregiver grandparents.

SOURCE: Case Western Reserve University, news release, Nov. 10, 2004
Consumer News