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Older People and Divorce
 by: James Walsh

One probable factor could be the extreme stress of handling the empty nest syndrome together with post-retirement blues. These people had solely concentrated on their respective jobs and on being good parents to their children. In this process, they had forgotten to enjoy the company of each other. When left together in their old age, neither liked to spend time with the other.

Different Problems Faced by People Divorcing in their Old Age

Emotional Well-Being

When older people get divorced, its effects are varied on men and women. Older men are often dependants. They are more prone to sickness and their spouse nurtures them back to health. After divorce they are badly affected. They not only miss having a partner, they also lose a responsible caregiver.

Divorced women, however, fare better for they feel freer. Having spent lots of time and energy taking care of their husbands, their post-divorce phase is marked with higher energy levels and more leisure time.

Family and Social Relationships

It is a generally held concept that old and divorced people are unable to extend the required support to their adult children. But, this belief presents only one side of the picture. Majority of the older divorced women had been working. After divorce and retirement they gain more time which they spend with their children. Divorced women are more close to their children.

Only men tend to isolate themselves in the post-divorce period.

Financial Problems

Older women, however, face a major handicap after divorce. They are plagued with financial problems. In the pre-divorce period much of their financial needs were met by their husband. Divorce changes the picture.

Women have consistently earned lesser than men and had many career breaks for child rearing. Quite frequently, they draw no pension after retirement. In the UK just 13% of the women qualify for the basic state pension compared to 92% of the men (The pension amount in itself is too small to survive solely on.). Divorce in this age compounds financial problems for the women.

If this disparity in pension levels continues, future older and divorced women will also be facing plenty of financial problems.

Rising up to the Challenges Posed by Divorce

Men and women cope differently with divorce.

Work and Health Issues

Women are healthier in the post-divorce period. Being the basic and primary caregivers all through their life, they know how to care well for themselves. They enjoy better health and live longer.

Divorced men rarely know how to manage daily life. Generally, they are not as good as women at house work. They care neither for a notorious diet nor for the upkeep of cleanliness. Lack of nutritious diet coupled with the grief of divorce leaves them badly affected.

Divorce and Loneliness

Divorce leads older men to loneliness. Rather than forming fresh social contacts, they gravitate towards alcohol for relief. With deteriorating social life, substance abuse increases and soon damages their health. And this cycle of deterioration continues.

Women are not lonely. In fact, their social life improves in the post-divorce period while it deteriorates for the men.

Loneliness and Depression

The loneliness these men experience is severe and leads them to depression. Studies indicate that the life span of men who are divorced in their late 50s is reduced by a decade. Divorce affects them so badly. Older divorced men are more prone to an early death compared to widowers.

Aged and divorced women form support groups and help one another. This comradeship is lacking in men. Men rarely venture out and mix with other people.

These differences in circumstances are partly responsible for older women turning divorce initiators. Men rarely initiate these proceedings in their old age. Women cope better with divorce, care for themselves well and are comparatively healthy. The only problem they face is in the financial realm. In other words, divorce in old age affects the emotional well-being of men and the financial well-being of women.

About The Author

James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. If you want to find out more about a solicitor managed divorce see

This article was posted on July 05, 2007


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