Pensioners 'neglected by families they once cared for'

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The Independent Online

Grandparents who regularly look after their grandchildren are abandoned by them as they grow older, says new research.

Grandparents who regularly look after their grandchildren are abandoned by them as they grow older, says new research.

The study, to be presented tomorrow at Britain's first national conference on grandparenting, shows that although one in eight women with a child under five years old receives regular help from her mother, four out of five grandparents are not given any help from their grandchildren when they need it in later life.

The role of grandparenting in Britain has come underscrutiny as the Government is looking to grandparents to support working couples by taking on more childcare. High rates of divorce and family breakdown have also led to growing concern about the lack of grandparents' legal rights.

Researchers from the Centre for Population Studies (CPS) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that by their late fifties, two-thirds of the population have at least one grandchild, with more than half living within 30 minutes of their eldest grandchild. By 65 years ofage, 85 per cent of men and 90 per cent of women are grandparents.

"Grandparents are an important resource. It is clear that most of them are actively involved in looking after young grandchildren," said Dr Emily Grundy, a reader in social gerontology at the CPS and co-author of the research. "However, there is much less contact between the grandparents and grandchildren who are grown up. The proportion of grandparents who get any help from them is less than 20 per cent."

The study of more than 3,500 people, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, shows that on average grandparenthood comes four years earlier for people from manual and social groups compared with those from professional occupations. Two-thirds of grandmothers and 52 per cent of grandfathers see their eldest grandchild at least once a week.

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