Divorce is an emotionally taxing process at any age that can have negative effects on your health and overall well-being. It’s long been known to increase stress for prolonged periods of time. Older couples divorcing after 50 – commonly referred to as “gray divorce” – may be more at risk for an increase in health problems as a result of their marriage ending.
Surprisingly, the occurrence rate of gray divorce has doubled in the last 25 years. Maybe it’s that people are living longer and choosing to leave a spouse they don’t care for anymore or perhaps the marital problems seeded long ago and are just now surfacing.
Health effects of gray divorce
Whatever the reasons for its occurrence, it brings with it adverse health effects for older people such as:
- Loneliness and isolation
- Depression and anxiety
- Chronic stress
These conditions can make existing health conditions worse but can also contribute to additional problems like heart disease, diabetes, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, changes in weight, insomnia and changes in activity.
Being aware of the health risks can help reduce them with preventative steps:
- Get out of the house every day to interact with others
- Increase your social connections
- Get some exercise – go for a walk or try a yoga class
- Seek professional help
- Get a pet for companionship
While there are increased health risks, a gray divorce can be a blessing if you were unhappy in your marriage. Walking away from a toxic relationship can increase your health and happiness no matter where you’re at in life, which ultimately will likely have a positive outcome on your overall health.