Grandmothers deserve more recognition for their role as caregivers with some at risk of being overburdened.
Over one in 10 women in their seventies and eighties regularly care for their grandchildren. While as many as one in four women in their sixties are part of the ‘sandwich generation’ caring for both a grandchild and an ill, disabled or frail adult.
The University of Queensland (UQ) and University of Newcastle (UON) research is being released on 18 October for National Carers Week.
The report From child care to elder care: findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health found 60% of women in their mid-sixties and 12% of women in their late eighties provided regular, unpaid childcare for their grandchildren.
Study Director at UON and Hunter Medical Research Institute Professor Julie Byles said it was surprising how many women cared for their grandchildren on top of their own work commitments.
“More than half of the women providing unpaid, daily care for their grandchildren were employed, with 23% working fulltime jobs.”
An overwhelming 90% of grandmothers reported they were happy with their share of childminding duties. The report found grandmothers who provided childcare were generally in good health, especially as they aged.
“Their self-rated health was higher than non-carers and women providing care for another adult they lived with. They made fewer GP visits, and reported lower levels of anxiety and depression,” UQ Deputy Director Associate Professor Leigh Tooth said.
Professor Tooth cautioned against overburdening grandmothers, particularly the ‘sandwich generation’.
“When these women cared for a grandchild and another adult, they were more likely to be depressed, have higher levels of stress and make more visits to the GP.”
The research also highlighted older women in their seventies and eighties were providing care while also requiring care and assistance themselves.
National Carers Week 2018 in Australia runs from 14-20 October. The week is about recognising and celebrating the contribution of Australia’s 2.7 million unpaid carers make to the nation. For more information or to get involved, visit www.carersweek.com.au