Numbers show divorce after retirement statistics make up about 20 percent of all divorces. As of 2020, this statistic zooms in prominently on the baby boomer generation. When a couple divorces after retirement or later in life, such as after the age of 50, outsiders may think it may be due to a belated midlife crisis, infidelity, or some other reason, when in fact, the reasons may be surprising. Read on to learn more about what some of the reasons are behind divorce after retirement and how to handle this tough transition if you are one of the children of gray divorce.
Divorce After Retirement: Why Does it Happen?
When elderly parents divorce, their children, other family members, and other friends may wonder what the reasoning is behind a divorce that happens so late in life. After all, many of these marriages end after years or decades of marriage, so why are they ending? Top theories often include an “empty nest theory” (even years after the kids have left home), infidelity, or a belated midlife crisis. According to Psychology Today, in actuality, one of the top reasons these lengthy marriages dissolve and divorce after retirement happens is due to simple unresolved problems based on things from years past. Also, for marriages that were not quite as lengthy, couples who had been divorced previously were simply more likely to divorce again, no matter how old they were. Lastly, financial insecurity was a problem. Unemployment, financial burden, and uncertainties about retirement were enough to push couples to the edge – and enough to push divorce after retirement (or right around retirement age).
Divorce After Retirement: Dealing with Elderly Parents’ Divorce
When elderly parents divorce, it can create a heavy emotional burden for the children. Divorce has the propensity to hurt kids, whether they’re 5 or 50, and it’s simply just a fact of life. However, when you’re dealing with elderly parents and divorce, there may be a lot more to contend with than just the emotional aspect of elderly parents getting divorced. Depending on their health and financial needs, you and your siblings (if you have them), may have to step in and divide up tasks between your mother and father to help them with everything from paying their rent to self-care to helping them with their daily chores. Divorce after retirement can be tough on everyone involved; think about the fact that, even if they weren’t getting along well at the end, they still had each other to divvy up tasks and to look out for one another. Now, they’re at separate residences, having to cook, clean, take care of their finances, and take care of their emotional, physical, and spiritual health. That’s a big burden on them, and unfortunately, it may be a big burden on you and your siblings. If you have elderly divorced parents or elderly parents who want a divorce, it may be best for you and your siblings to sit down with your mom and dad to draw up a plan (if everyone is amicable) as to who is taking care of what, at least for the first few months.
Divorce After Retirement: The Uncomfortable Topics
Divorce in and of itself is not a comfortable topic for anyone of any age. But, divorce after retirement, especially if there are health care issues involved, brings with it some uncomfortable issues that need to be addressed. At your family meeting (if you’re able to hold one), you need to have a good hold on your mother and father’s total assets and how they plan to handle things moving forward. This isn’t because you’re nosy — this is to help protect them in case one of them becomes too physically or mentally impaired to take care of themselves and requires round the clock care. If insurance fails to be an option, you need to know what’s available.
Depending on your parents’ level of assets, this may also be a good time to research or to avail the help of a lawyer or advocate who can steer you in the right direction as far as Social Security benefits are concerned. If your parents are younger than 65, but one is disabled, they may be entitled to benefits — including medical insurance — before retirement age.
That being said, if you are stepping in to help take care of mom or dad for a little while, be very wary of caregiver burnout, particularly if you’re still working and raising a family of your own. It’s very real, and happens very often. If one of your parents wants to age in place, but they are too ill and are refusing to move, it may be best to discuss other options where better care can be provided for them. These are tough things to think about, but are unfortunate realities when it comes to divorce in retirement.
To find out about more resources that may be helpful when it comes to divorce after retirement, or to hear about mobility products that can be life-changing for those who are elderly or disabled, contact us at Williams Lift Co. today. We want both patients and caregivers to live their best lives.