Empty nest: not so bad


Parents whose children move far, far away from home are less likely to experience depression after they go than parents whose kids stay in the neighborhood. A new study suggests that children who take off for the big city are more likely to financially support their parents which might be one of the bigger contributors to the lower level of depression.

Parents with distant children half as likely to be depressed

“Parents whose children had all left the district were half as likely to be depressed as parents who still had one or more child living in the district. Although our study was conducted in Thailand, the findings are similar to previous studies in China,” stated Dr. Melanie Abas, lead author from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.

Researchers assumed feelings of isolation and loneliness; not so

Admittedly, in Thailand it is tradition for children to care for their ageing parents. Rising rates of urban migration have had researchers concerned that parents may feel abandoned and depressed. Not so says the new data. There are ways parents can protect themselves from these feelings of isolation.

Protection from empty-nest syndrome

“We found several protective factors against the empty-nest syndrome, some similar to those we wee in the UK and US. Living in close-knit communities, seeing their children regularly at family gatherings or holidays and the feeling that they had succeeded as parents by having a self-sufficient child living and working in the city all helped against the empty-next syndrome.”

And the money doesn’t hurt

One key insurance policy is the financial assistance often received by the parents from their distant offspring. “In a country with a less developed welfare system, this makes an important difference to older parents’ lives,” Abas noted.

Kids going back and forth increase depression

Research showed that 27% of parents with a nearby child had depression compared to 16% for those with children living outside the district. A year later, 24% of parents with local children showed signs of depression while 9% of parents with far away children had depression. The change in numbers was explained by the migration of children back and forth depending on their own financial situation. If children moved back, depression increased.

Source: King’s College London, MedicalNewsToday


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