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Strong grandparent-adult grandchild relationships reduce depression for both
Date:8/11/2013

NEW YORK CITY A new study shows 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, who 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."

The study also revealed 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. "There's a saying, 'It's better to give than to receive.' Our results support that folk wisdom if a grandparent gets help, but can't give it, he or she feels badly. Grandparents expect to be able to help their grandchildren, even when their grandchildren are grown, and it's frustrating and depressing for them to instead be dependent on their grandchildren."

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,
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Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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