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The health burden of raising a grandchild
Date:11/7/2008

ous once they made the transition into full-time care, becoming more likely than those not raising grandchildren to adopt preventative health measures such as flu vaccinations and monthly breast self-exams.

"Long-term caregivers are particularly motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle, in order to be prepared to care for the child in the future. As grandmothers adapt to their new role, this motivation begins to outweigh constraints on service use," Baker said.

The researchers looked at more than 5,200 grandmothers between the ages of 50 and 75. The women were divided into those who had cared for a grandchild for more than two years, those who had cared for a grandchild for two years or less, and those who did not care for a grandchild.

The lower incidence of preventive health care in the first two years of raising a grandchild was true even among grandmothers for whom raising a grandchild was not a financial or emotional strain,, according to the study.

"This implies that even grandparents and grandchildren in households traditionally seen as stable and therefore not generally targeted by state and federal programs, may be at adverse risk if lower use of health screening results in greater prevalence of disease and disability among caregiving grandparents," Baker said.

Baker and Silverstein write that healthy habits among long-term grandmothers do not fully offset the lack of preventive health examinations during the crucial transition period.

The researchers advocate for support groups that target a range of interventions such as check-ups, screenings and inoculations aimed at promoting healthy behavior among new grandparent caregivers.

"Many of these support groups are already available on a local level," Baker said. "They provide ride-share programs or babysitting drop off centers so grandmothers can go through health checkups."

Baker also emphasized the need for greater awareness, esp
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Contact: Suzanne Wu
suzanne.wu@usc.edu
213-740-0252
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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