People over the age of 50 do not have the highest divorce rate of any age demographic. However, according to U.S. News and World Report, people over the age of 50 have seen the greatest increase in divorce rates over the past 30 years.
This raises a significant health concern. If you are over the age of 50, you are more likely to have underlying health complaints that the stress of divorce can exacerbate. Divorce at any age is a significant stressor that can contribute to a health breakdown according to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. Knowing how divorce can affect your health may help you take better care of yourself.
Social isolation is a risk factor for chronic disease and mental health decline. Your risk for isolation increases after a divorce, especially if it was your spouse who usually maintained and organized your social contact with family and friends.
Symptoms of depression, such as hopelessness, mood swings, fatigue and loss of interest, are common after a divorce. Depression can worsen obesity, heart disease, insomnia and other existing conditions. They can put you at greater risk of developing conditions such as these if not already present.
If you are under a great deal of stress, you may turn to risky behaviors to help you cope. These may include substance abuse, promiscuity, overeating or overspending. Risky behaviors such as these have the potential to harm your health in various ways.
Self-neglect occurs when you are no longer willing and/or able to meet your own basic needs. It can happen for a number of reasons after a divorce. A change in your financial circumstances may make it difficult to afford necessities like food or medication. Depression can make it difficult to motivate yourself to meet your obligations to yourself or others.