Divorcing Later in Life: Is It Healthier for You?

Written April 13th, 2012
Categories: Divorce Life Stages, Uncategorized

Divorce is stressful. We can all agree with that. Sociological studies are proving it and demonstrating how it can affect a person’s health.

In a study published in 2009, Linda Waite, of University of Chicago and co-author Mary Elizabeth Hughes, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, discovered that “divorced or widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer than married people.”

The researchers compiled data from four categories—chronic conditions, mobility, depressive symptoms and their self-assessment—studying 8,652 middle-aged people. The results were clear. Health suffers when an couple divorces gets divorced. Waite says, “What’s interesting is if people have done this and remarried, we still see, in their health, the scars or marks — the damage that was done by this event.”

In a more recently published study by Michigan State University sociologist, Hui Liu, reported that when older adults divorce, the event causes less health problems than with younger couples. Liu analyzed reports from over 1,200 participants in a 15-year national study, “Americans’ Changing Lives.”

Of people surveyed who were born in the 1950’s, the highest number of health issues was reported by those who divorced in the last half of their thirties. Their complaints outnumbered those who divorced in their late 40’s and those who stayed married during the study.

Interestingly, those who remained divorced or who remained married during the study, reported about the same health issues. Liu surmised that “it is not the status of being married or divorced, per se, that affects health, but instead is the process of a divorce transition . . . that it is stressful and hurts health.”

To find out more about either of these studies, click here or here.