Picking up grandkids from school can improve mental health, study finds | Solitude

According to research, taking grandchildren to playgroups and picking them up from school can help avoid loneliness.

The study, a review of previous studies involving nearly 200,000 participants in 21 countries, suggested that regularly caring for grandchildren tends to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, including feeling less isolated and more fulfilled.

In contrast, those caring for a spouse with an illness or disability were linked to increased feelings of loneliness, highlighting the added burden for unpaid older carers.

Samia Akhter-Khan, a PhD student at King’s College London and first author of the study, said: “We see these fairly clear and consistent findings that grandfathering or unrelated childcare has this positive effect whereas spousal custody has a negative effect on loneliness.”

The team reviewed 28 previous studies involving 191,652 people over 50 in 21 countries, including the UK, and looked at the link between loneliness and unpaid care. Study found adults over 60 who spent an average of 12 hours per week caring for their grandchildren were 60% less likely to feel lonely than non-caregivers, and other research revealed similar trends.

“While caring for grandchildren may include some of the same time-consuming activities as caring for an elderly person, such as bathing and feeding, children are embedded in a network of care that typically involves parents. and institutions, such as schools,” the authors write. .

Volunteering in a range of activities, including social and environmental causes, was also linked to lower levels of loneliness. In contrast, caring for a sick spouse or parent was consistently linked to higher levels of loneliness and isolation. The authors suggest that caring for a partner can isolate itself in the “lack of support from other people or organizations” and that people often have no choice but to become a carer in this scenario. It can also be “a preparation for the transition to widowhood”.

The authors highlight “the stark contrast between the different realities of care”, where in some contexts it is a costly and painful activity and in others rewarding and meaningful. They add that the role of older people as caregivers needs to be better recognized.

“Older people are usually portrayed as recipients of care and a cost to society in terms of money for pensions and health issues,” Akhter-Khan said. “But they are really important contributors in terms of caregiving and volunteering. They are truly valuable to our society.

The results are published in the journal Aging and Mental Health.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: