Dealing with divorce is never easy, but ending a marriage in your senior years brings with it a unique set of challenges, such as dividing income and retirement funds, starting over with a new home or job, and helping adult children understand the reasons behind the divorce.
Why the Increase in Senior Divorce Rates?
People are living longer and focusing more on their individual happiness. Some seniors who have not felt totally fulfilled in their marriages believe they need to make a change in order to improve their emotional well-being.
Many of today’s seniors grew up believing that if their spouses performed their individual roles well, they had no grounds for divorce. As the trend toward personal fulfillment has grown, people have started looking at their marriages differently. Couples who used to stay in a marriage for financial security now feel more comfortable branching out on their own. Both men and women view social commitments differently, and, in many societies, divorce is more acceptable than it was in the past.
Dealing with Divorce and Loneliness
Loneliness is an issue for seniors, but it can be even more pronounced after divorce — especially for the person who did not initiate it. One spouse may “keep” more of the friends in the divorce, leaving the other spouse without the social support he’s always known. Or, a couple’s adult children may pick sides, blaming one parent for the divorce and spending more time with the other.
This is where being part of an organization such as Parents Without Partners can help. Getting out and meeting people in a new living facility or neighborhood is also a step in the right direction. Making new friends can be challenging when you’re older, but remember: it’s not impossible. It’s up to you to get out and try new things in order to meet people.
Seniors may also experience financial challenges when dealing with divorce. Some retired seniors may choose to go back to work and delay retirement for a bit longer, reevaluate their investment portfolios, or take out a reverse mortgage to help handle the change in finances.
Caregivers of Senior Divorcees
If you are the caregiver of a divorced senior, helping her invite a group of people over or get involved with volunteering may be able to help her work through loneliness. Caregivers can be bright spots in situations that seem dark, providing emotional support and comfort during a time of transition.
Many divorced seniors feel stronger and happier once the legalities are worked through. If your senior is feeling uncertain about his future, encourage him in his newfound independence.