One of the biggest bliss for an elderly individual is company of a grandchild. Grandchildren are undoubtedly an extended support for their grandparents.
Now there is a scientific backing to this emotional comment. Researchers have proved that people with healthy relationships with their grandparents are less likely to be depressed.
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the Boston College analyzed data on 376 grandparents and 340 grandchildren enrolled for the Longitudinal Study of Generations between 1985 and 2004.
On average, the grandparents aged 77 years, while grandchildren aged 31 years at the midpoint of the study in 1994.
The participants were tracked from 1985 through 2004.
Researchers found that grandparents and adult grandchildren who were emotionally attached had fewer symptoms of depression.
“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.
Moreover, “the greater emotional support grandparents and adult grandchildren received from one another, the better their psychological health,” Moorman said.
< strong>Tangible support
Besides emotional bonding, the study also looked at the effect of giving out or receiving tangible support on the well-being of the generations.
Although extending tangible support or receiving it from their grandchildren affected the psychological well-being of grandparents, it did not impact the mental health of grandchildren, researchers highlighted.
Researchers found that grandparents who received “tangible support” but were unable to reciprocate it to their grandchild experienced the highest increase in depressive symptoms over time.
On the other hand, grandparents who both received and extended tangible support experienced the fewest symptoms of depression over time
“Grandparents who experienced the sharpest increases in depressive symptoms over time received tangible support, but did not give it,” said Moorman.
Thus, it is important that grandchildren help their grandparents to remain independent. It is also imperative to maintain a two-way, supportive relationship rather than a one-sided support channel, in order to ward off the detrimental effects of aging on the mental and emotional well-being of the older adults.
“Extended family members, such as grandparents and grandchildren, serve important functions in one another’s daily lives throughout adulthood,” researchers said.
The findings of the study are presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York.