Grandparents ‘put themselves at risk’ while caring for grandchildren

Children & Young People Now (UK) 7 October 2010
Grandparents with grandchildren in their care are putting their own health and wellbeing at risk, according to two studies. Research from the Grandparents’ Association found that 55 per cent of grandparents who are primary kinship carers experienced deterioration in their physical health, while 40 per cent had suffered mental health problems. Of the 200 grandparents surveyed by the London South Bank University (LSBU), which carried out the research, 72 were kinship carers who had replaced the children’s parents as primary carers because of issues involving substance misuse, child protection concerns and mental health problems.
A separate report from live-in care specialists Helping Hands, showed that grandparents are increasingly caring for their grandchildren as well as their own, elderly parents. Some 30 per cent of the UK’s ageing population are now part of four-generation families, with grandparents spending an average two and a half days a week helping out with childcare or looking after their elderly parents. Of the 3,000 over-55s questioned, 65 per cent said they struggled to balance care of both the oldest and the youngest generations of their family with 35 per cent admitting to feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities.