A growing movement toward divorcing later in life may have serious impacts on the health and finances of the people involved. Divorce is one of the most stressful life events a person can go through, and for older people it can increase the risk of depression or other adverse health conditions. People in Minnesota who are approaching or going through divorce should be aware of the impact it can have on their health. Awareness of psychological conditions like depression can be helpful.

A professor of psychiatry and practicing geriatric psychiatrist said she often encounters seniors who develop anxiety, chronic stress or depression following a divorce. She said it’s also common for seniors who divorce to go through symptoms of post-traumatic stress like flashbacks of negative events and nightmares. This is especially true for individuals who have been in relationships that were abusive.

Psychological distress might manifest in fatigue, poor memory, lack of focus, muscle aches, mood swings, changes in sleep patterns or changes in appetite. These symptoms are enough to damage health. People who suffer from insomnia can experience cognitive differences; they might forget to buy groceries or take medications. Stress has been associated with risky behaviors like overspending, substance abuse and overeating.

The financial changes that divorce brings on can have an impact on health as well. Seniors who divorce may have to tighten their budgets and may not be able to afford necessities like medication, doctor’s visits, food or transportation.

People who are facing the end of a marriage might want to have legal assistance. A lawyer with experience in family law might be able to help by helping to divide retirement accounts to minimize tax liability or by identifying and categorizing the client’s marital and separate property.