Objectives: To investigate factors associated with Chilean grandparents' provision of help to grandchildren and associations between provision of such help and grandparents' mental well-being two years later.
Methods: Data are drawn from a representative sample of 2000 people aged 66-68 resident in low- or middle-income areas of Santiago who were surveyed in 2005 and re-interviewed two years later. Multivariable analyses were used to investigate factors associated with provision of help to grandchildren at baseline and associations between providing such help and life satisfaction, SF36-Mental Component Summary scores, and depression two years later.
Results: 41% of grandparents lived with one or more grandchildren and over half provided four or more hours per week of help to grandchildren. Models controlling for baseline mental health, grandchild characteristics, marital and household characteristics, socio-economic status and functional health showed that grandfathers who provided four or more hours per week of help to grandchildren had better life satisfaction two years later and that those providing material help had higher SF36 MCS scores at follow-up. Grandmothers providing four or more hours of help a week had lower risks of depression.
Conclusion: Older Chileans make important contributions to their families through the provision of help to grandchildren and these appear to have some benefits for their own psychosocial health. Gender differences in the pattern of associations may reflect differences in overall family responsibilities and merit further investigation.