Rise in ‘silver separators’ leads to health fears

More and more people will spend their final years, lonely, poor and in ill health because of a rise in divorce amongst the elderly, a study has revealed.

Data by The International Longevity Centre UK demonstrates that divorce in old age has implications for the wellbeing of each party.

The report follows the publication of a study in the US which examined the effects of divorce on children.

Isolation

According to the data, between 1990 and 2012 there was an 85 per cent rise in divorce between men and women over the age of 60 in England and Wales.

The report warns that divorce in old age carries a number of risks including, “isolation and loneliness, financial hardship and the lack of a partner to provide care at times of need”.

It says: “Those who are divorced do not have a spouse to rely on at times of illness or disability which means that caring responsibilities may increasingly have to be taken on by people’s children or by paid carers.”

Mental health

“Divorced older men are more likely to rely on institutional care than divorced older women, who are more likely to be able to rely on their children”, it continues.

The report also highlights the prospect of mental health issues arising, stating that, “divorce has been shown to have a negative effect on mental health”.

It references a study published in 1997 which found that: “‘Divorce and separation were associated with increased anxiety and depression, and increased risk of alcohol abuse”.

Children

Earlier this year, a report published in the US found that divorce also has a negative impact on children regardless of whether parents remain amicable or not.

Researchers asked 270 parents who were divorced or separated between 1998 and 2004 about how their break up had affected the youngest child in their family.

The study found that children of divorced parents were more likely than others to have behavioural problems, mental health difficulties, and were at a greater risk of performing poorly at school.

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