Divorce ranks second just behind death of a spouse as the life event most likely to contribute to stress-related health issues on a commonly used risk scale. Legally untying a knot can be stressful for Ohio couples at any age and more so for adults 50 and over. Part of the reason is because divorce rates for couples within this age group have doubled since the early 1990s, even though there are fewer splits among legally wed partners 40 and under these days.
The spike in the so-called gray divorce rate is combined with concerns about increased health risks for older adults ending a marriage. According to results from ongoing research on later-life divorce, newly divorced seniors are more likely to experience chronic anxiety or stress and depression. Some even have issues with post-traumatic stress symptoms that may include flashbacks to instances of violence or abuse.
Lingering depression, like what may be experienced after a marriage ends later in life, is associated with an assortment of underlying health issues, including type 2 diabetes and progressive nervous system disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Chronic stress that’s not properly treated could contribute to insomnia and other sleep difficulties, high blood pressure, a weaker immune system and type 2 diabetes. Lack of focus, feelings of hopelessness, poor memory and other symptoms of psychological distress sometimes contribute to changes in eating and exercise habits that could contribute to health complications. Increased stress may even lead to risky behaviors such as substance abuse and overspending.
Older divorced individuals sometimes find themselves increasingly isolated, a problem more likely to affect men since women often handle social arrangements. Women 50 and over, however, tend to be more affected by changes with finances. A lawyer may be able to minimize financial issues by negotiating appropriate spousal support and recommending ways to protect retirement savings. A family law attorney might also make suggestions about which marital assets are worth fighting for. In some situations, this could mean the family home and similar assets that affect financial security for older divorcees.