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The health impacts of divorcing later in life

Kentuckians over 50 are divorcing in greater and greater numbers. In fact, the rate of divorce for this group has doubled since 1990. The phenomenon has been referred to as gray divorce, and it is linked with heightened symptoms of depression and other health problems. A professor of clinical psychiatry and geriatric psychiatrist said she often sees people who've divorced later in life develop anxiety or chronic stress.

Gray divorces may also leave the parties experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress through unhappy flashbacks or nightmares. Psychological issues often manifest physically. Depression has been linked to Parkinson's disease, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Chronic stress increases a person's risk for insomnia, obesity, weakened immune system and high blood pressure. The symptoms of stress on the psyche include lack of focus, muscle aches, mood swings, hopelessness, appetite changes, changes in sleep patterns and fatigue. Any of these symptoms might have a direct impact on physical health. In a case where a person experiences a combination of these symptoms, their physical health may be at greater risk.

Isolation is among the primary concerns for people divorcing later in life. If an ex-spouse is depressed or cannot find the desire to leave the house, he or she may become isolated. Studies have tied isolation to an increased risk of chronic disease, lessened mental health and death.

People who are approaching or going through a divorce in Kentucky should take steps to protect their mental and physical health throughout the process. An attorney with experience in divorce law might be able to help by negotiating for a property settlement. A fair financial agreement can go a long way toward facilitating a secure retirement.

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