A study has revealed that grandparents who spend too much of their time taking care of their grandchildren are more likely to become depressed.
It goes against what many of us believed – that spending time with grandchildren was one of life’s joys for people in old age.
However, a study from Trinity College Dublin shows that grandparents who provide over 60 hours care per month experience significantly more depressive symptoms.
The Irish Independent report that there has been a surge in grandparents being relied upon to help out in recent years due to crippling childcare costs.
Trinity College study showed that 60% of grandparents had looked after their grandchildren at some point in the last month.
Epidemiology research fellow, Christine McGarrigle said: “Grandparents who provide higher levels of childcare experience significantly more depressive symptoms.”
The study showed that grandparents with higher levels of education were less likely to suffer from these symptoms. Grandparents with third level education were also less likely be to looking after their grandchildren for 60 hours per month.
Another part of the study showed that grandparents are less likely to suffer depression if they joined in activities with their grandchildren rather than simply watching them.
Ms McGarrigle said that grandparents were more likely to show depressive symptoms if their experience looking after grandchildren didn’t meet their expectations.
Charity ‘Age Action’ say it is important for parents and grandparents to have an honest discussion about childcare.
Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy at Age Action said: “Many older people get great fulfilment from looking after their grandchildren, building relationships with them and supporting their adult children. But they need to be able to say no.
“It also needs to be recognised that as a grandparent gets older or their health deteriorates, they are not as able to look after young children. They may need to reduce the amount of childcare they provide or to stop altogether.”