Considerations For Divorced Seniors

Critical Issues for Seniors Dealing With Divorce

Divorce Rates Rising Among Seniors

Divorce rates among seniors have taken a sharp upturn in the last 25 years. Reasons for the rise in senior divorce rates may include a greater emphasis on the individual in recent years, encouraging people to seek out happiness wherever they might find it. In addition, women have become more independent, with many maintaining separate financial accounts and managing their own income, making a split more conceivable for those who might not have considered leaving their spouses before. For many people who are facing an empty nest, happiness with their spouse of 25 years seems like an elusive concept, especially if they have grown apart during the years of raising children. While divorce is more socially acceptable now than it has ever been, it comes with its own set of challenges, especially for seniors entering retirement.

Financial Protection for Divorced Seniors

Financial concerns often prove to be the most pressing for elderly people. Those who divorce usually report just a fraction of the financial security that older married couples have. Social security brings in an average of just $14,000 per year for a single retiree, an income that proves insufficient especially for those who are facing life on their own for the first time. In addition, dividing assets fairly can be a challenge for people who have always had joint accounts and joint titles for most of their possessions.

Experts in the financial field recommend that seniors get help from a qualified financial consultant as they face the prospect of dividing assets. In addition, elderly divorcees should get copies of all legal and financial documents, close joint accounts as soon as the decision to separate has been made, consider utilizing trusts to create a reliable income stream, and make sure insurance policies are in place if either spouse is responsible to make regular payments to the other.

Family Concerns When Seniors Divorce

While financial concerns may make the greatest impact in a senior’s new life, family concerns may be the most emotional. Questions like “How will my children react?” and “Will I get to see the grandchildren?” can create a roller coaster of emotions, especially if family members struggle to understand the reasons for the divorce. In addition, questions of who will take care of Mom or Dad when their health begins to deteriorate may create great concerns for seniors. Many have chosen to develop a plan on their own, such as finding a roommate or living with a sibling or parent. Others rely on a tight-knit community of people their own age to offer mutual support and help.

How Caregivers Can Make the Transition Easier

Adult children often play a large role in caring for seniors as they age. While it may not be easy to accept the divorce, it’s important for family members to help their loved ones develop a viable plan both for financial security and for caregiving before health concerns become pressing. When family members are unable to provide the level of care needed, an in-home caregiver can step in to fill the gap. Not only do caregivers provide for physical needs like meal preparation, medication reminders, and mobility assistance, but they also offer an important social connection that may be lacking in the lives of aging seniors living alone. Caregivers can also help identify changes in behavior that may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other health concerns.

Divorce has become a common feature of the retirement landscape, making it possible for seniors to purse individual interests once children have left home. By taking steps to ensure financial security and provide for senior care, family members can ensure that the golden years remain golden, even if aging parents face those years alone.

Photo by TheArches


Originally posted 2015-01-27 10:00:07.

Joyce Apperson
Joyce Apperson

Joyce Apperson is a Registered Nurse and Geriatric Care Manager with 15 plus years of experience working with advocating for seniors. She is the founder and President of Caring Connection, Inc., which provides in-home care and geriatric care management in Harford County, Baltimore County and Cecil County in Maryland. Joyce currently serves on the Harford County Advisory Board on Aging. In addition to writing articles here for the Caring Connection's blog, Joyce has been a regular contributor on senior care topics to the County Gazette.

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