Psychological Well-Being of Older Chinese-American Grandparents Caring for Grandchildren
Publication Date: 11/01/2016
The rapid increase in grandparents caring for grandchildren has received growing attention, but little research has focused on Chinese-American grandparents and their caregiving experiences. Drawing on cross-sectional data from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly—a community-engaged, epidemiological study of Chinese-American adults aged 60 and older, the relationships between caregiving experiences and psychological well-being were examined. Of 2,365 older adults who answered the question about grandparent caregiving, 818 (35%) were designated as caregivers, spending an average of 12 hours a week on childcare. About one in five caregivers reported caregiving burden, pressure, or negative health effect of caregiving. Caregivers had better psychological well-being than noncaregivers, with significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. For caregivers, higher levels of caregiving burden, pressure from adult children, and perceived negative effect were related to greater rates of psychological distress. With a strong cultural expectation of family care, grandparent caregiving is generally associated with positive psychological well-being, but it can also be stressful, especially when older adults feel pressured to provide childcare or that doing so is a burden. The study implies that cultural values and life transitions may shape grandparent caregiving experiences and well-being, indicating the importance of respecting cultural differences in family caregiving. Understanding positive and negative aspects of grandparent caregiving and the underlying mechanisms will help healthcare professionals identify caregivers at risk of psychological distress and provide proper interventions to attenuate negative outcomes while maximizing positive experiences for Chinese-American older adults.