Divorce is one of the most stressful life events a person can experience. The stress and other circumstances of a divorce can be detrimental to both your physical and emotional health, no matter what your age. However, divorce can more seriously impact the health of older people.
Divorce among people in their 50s and well into their senior years has doubled within the past three decades. This so-called “gray divorce” phenomenon has prompted researchers to look at how the end of a marriage can impact people’s mental and physical well-being.
Even if someone is “only” suffering psychological effects, such as chronic stress, depression and anxiety, these psychological conditions can lead to physical problems. For example, chronic stress can increase a person’s chances of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. Depression has even been shown to increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.
These psychological conditions can also cause insomnia, loss of appetite (or conversely, overeating and making unhealthy eating choices) and lack of exercise. All of these can lead to a decline in health. Psychological distress can also lead people to engage in risky behavior such as substance abuse and promiscuity, which can both have negative health implications.
On the other hand, many older people become socially isolated during and after divorce. This happens more to divorcing men because they often relied on their wives to plan the couple’s activities with friends and family. Studies have shown that isolation can lead to mental health issues, chronic diseases and even premature death.
When people suffer financially in divorce, they may hesitate to spend money on doctors and medications. If they lose their health insurance in the divorce and aren’t old enough to qualify for Medicare, they may not seek the medical — let alone the psychological — help they need.
That’s why if you have been dependent on your spouse’s health insurance policy, you need to make other arrangements before the divorce is final so that you don’t have any lapse in coverage when you may need it more than ever. Your West Palm Beach divorce attorney can work to help you take the necessary steps to ensure that you have health insurance. Your attorney can also likely recommend resources — including therapists, spa services, fitness clubs and support groups — to help you take care of yourself physically and emotionally.