It is perhaps not something you hear about in the media every day, but it seems that the divorce rate among retirees is alarmingly high and seems to be increasing all the time. Whenever we talk about divorce rates or couples separating, we typically focus on the impact that the divorce will have on the couple’s young or teenage children. Very rarely do we discuss the impact on the individuals themselves, or on the healthcare and social care systems of society. And, with such an increase in divorce rates among retirees, it is about time to focus on what those numbers could mean for other facets of UK society, especially the care system. This is an issue that has been growing for a few years now and is now at a point that requires immediate attention and action if a remedy is to be developed and administered.
The divorce rate for those couples over the age of 60 has grown by a staggering 30% just in the last ten years. Furthermore, there has been another increase in the number of retirees over age 75 that are now living alone. In terms of pressure on the care system, this could mean that adult social care costs could increase at a staggering rate, especially if divorce rates continue to increase in the same way they are now. Pressure on the care system only mounts when elders are forced to live independently.
On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like divorce would cause such a great impact on social care and its costs. However, when you think about it a little more closely it starts to make sense. For those couples who stay together and forfeit divorce, the skills of the two of them combined are often greater than either one of them independently. While one of them may have mobility issues, the other may be strong enough to help with navigation and moving around. Where one may have weak eyesight, the other has prefect vision. In a sense, no matter what the faults or weaknesses, with a two person partnership it is far more likely that the two will be able to live independently in their home for far longer than if it were just one of them. Once split up, each partner would require a great deal more support which would mean an increase in cost that could be quite significant.
The Government has seemingly taken notice of this incredible increase in divorce rates and has invested research into understanding the increase as well as preventing its continuation. The Department for Education has recently started to evaluate its own programmes that are aimed at marriage and relationship support. And many are stating that the Government needs to start investing in saving marriages across the UK if it has any hopes of keeping the care system afloat. However, it is crucial that changes be made immediately or that the problem draws more attention, and perhaps more ideas surrounding a solution. As the problem continues to grow in scope, it will also continue to become harder to handle and problem solve.
The divorce of two retirees does not only impact the social care system in the UK. It seems that silver divorces (now called the silver splitters) are causing huge rifts within families and it may be too soon to tell exactly what the ramifications of all of these divorces may have on future generations. It was once suggested that young children who were raised in broken homes were more likely themselves to create broken homes. So it will be curious to uncover if the same rationale will be able to be used on silver divorces as well.
Whatever the cause of this increase in divorce among retirees, the ramifications are clear. The social care system is likely to see an incredible strain on its resources should this trend continue and it does not seem to show signs of letting up any time in the near future. That being said, it may be wise of the Government to look into ways to help alleviate the problem or at least determine its origins. Otherwise, there may not be enough resources to sustain the care system for as long as it is needed. This could be especially true if the rise in divorce rates only creates an additional rise among children of divorcees. This growing problem is something that should stay on the radar of the media and overall society, especially as the care system tries to support all the changes and strains being created. The silver splitter generation are creating issues untried & unseen before and with that in mind consideration should be given to this problem and the unhappiness it causes.