Two-fifths (40%) of the nation’s grandparents over the age of 50 – five million – have provided regular childcare for their grandchildren, according to a new YouGov poll for leading older people’s charity, Age UK.
The new research, published by Age UK ahead of national Grandparents’ Day this Sunday (1 October), shines a light on the unique relationship between the older and younger generations, demonstrating the wide ranging benefits of keeping the generations connected.
Highlighting the prevalence of ‘grannannying’ in today’s society, the new findings show that many of the nation’s 14 million grandparents are now playing a pivotal role in their grandchildren’s day-to-day lives.
Grandparents are having to provide weekly childcare
The survey revealed that the vast majority (89%) of the five million grandparents who provided regular care do so at least once a week:
- one in 10 (12%) looking after their grandchildren at least once a day
- a fifth (18%) look after them 4-6 times a week
- two-fifths (38%) look after them 2-3 times a week
Just over half (51%) of these grandparents providing regular care did so for up to five years and a further 28% did so for between 5-10 years, with well over half (57%) saying their help had enabled their own child/ children to work more to support their family.
The benefits of spending time with grandchildren
The findings show that the vast majority of grandparents surveyed that provided regular care for their grandchildren also felt huge benefits from spending this time with their grandchildren:
- half (50%) said it kept them physically and mentally active
- 14% admitted it stopped them from feeling lonely
- almost two-fifths (38%) admitted it gave them a sense of purpose
Nearly all (88%) said they enjoyed the time spent with their grandchildren and the opportunity to watch them flourish.
Grandparents provide a range of support
The findings reveal that almost nine out of 10 (89%) of all grandparents across the UK – including those who do not provide regular childcare – feel close to their grandchildren, with around a third (33%) of those playing the role of confidant for grandchildren with worries or problems.
And while the same proportion also find themselves asked for advice and practical tips such as recipes and how to mend things, over a quarter (28%) said their grandchildren also provide practical help such as support with technology if they need it.
Grandmother and Age UK supporter, Gloria Hunniford, said: ‘Being a grandparent is such a vital part of my life and I love having a close bond with my grandchildren. They bring me endless joy but on occasions we have helped each other through some very difficult times. Having watched them grow means so much to me and has given me a purpose when I needed it most.
‘Grandparents’ Day is all about celebrating those whom we care about in our lives and taking time to recognise how important they are. It’s crucial that we do everything we possibly can to look after our loved ones so do your bit and help support Age UK to help make sure older people can love later life.”