Caring for Grandchildren: Grandparents Suffer the Consequences of Poor Health

Researchers at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service profiled the health care needs of caregiving grandparents and the resources available to them.

The study compared heads of households in three groups:

  • Caregiving grandparents with three generations in residence.
  • Those heading "split generation" households with a grandparent and grandchild, but not child.
  • Adults with children but no grandchildren in residence.

Key Results

  • The project resulted in a 12-page report to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) entitled "Health and Well Being of Grandparents Who Are Raising Their Grandchildren."

Key Findings

  • Grandparents raising children are at high risk for poor health.

  • Grandparents raising grandchildren were at a somewhat elevated risk for having not visited an outpatient provider during the previous year and at a substantially higher risk of having multiple emergency room visits.

  • Caregiving grandparents were more likely than parents raising children either to have no health insurance or to rely on public providers for it.

  • Material hardships are high among caregiving grandparents.

  • Although health and access disparities may reflect underlying demographic differences among the groups, the data suggest that even after adjusting for socio-demographic, financial and health characteristics, caregiving grandparents are at risk for sub-optimal health care and poor health.