Impact of caring for grandchildren on the health of grandparents in Taiwan

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2013 Nov;68(6):1009-21. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbt090. Epub 2013 Sep 21.


Objectives: To understand how caring for grandchildren affects the physical and mental health of grandparents in Taiwan.

Method: Grandparents aged 50 and older from 4 waves of the Taiwan Longitudinal Study on Aging (1993-2003, n = 3,711) were divided into 7 categories based on living arrangement and caregiving history. Generalized estimation equations controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and disease status were used to estimate the relationship between caregiving and 4 outcomes: self-rated physical health, mobility limitation, life satisfaction, and depressive symptoms.

Results: Compared with noncaregivers, long-term multigenerational caregivers were more likely to report better self-rated health, higher life satisfaction, and fewer depressive symptoms. We found some evidence of reduced mobility limitations for both skipped-generation and nonresidential caregivers relative to noncaregivers. The associations in self-rated health and depressive symptoms were more pronounced in long-term caregivers than among those who recently started caregiving.

Discussion: Improvements in self-rated health and mobility associated with caregiving support our hypothesis that caring for grandchildren can be beneficial for grandparents in Taiwan, especially for long-term multigenerational caregivers. Comparing Taiwanese grandparents across different types of caregiving shows that the associations of grandparent caregiving with health vary by living arrangement and duration. However, these findings may not be causal because caregiving and health outcomes were observed simultaneously in our data.

Keywords: Caregiving; Grandparent; Health; Living arrangements..

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child Care / psychology
  • Child Rearing / ethnology*
  • Depression / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations / ethnology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Taiwan / ethnology
  • Time Factors