Recent figures show a significant rise in the number of people aged over 60 who are filing for divorce. The boom in ‘silver separations’ as over 60s divorce is rapidly becoming known, is the only age group where the divorce rate is rising.
Sadly when many couples reach retirement age, without having the structure and routine that work brings to fill the day, may realise that they no longer want to remain married to their husband or wife. The trigger for some couples seems to be when their children leave home.
Ros Altmann, director general of the over-50s group Saga, said: “This is more proof that life is really changing for the over-60s and for many it’s the start of the next phase of their lives, not the end of their life as people in the past were often led to expect. We are really witnessing a major social revolution, with older generations no longer behaving in the traditional manner.
“They are not “old”! They can do many or most of the things that they could do in their earlier years, going on great holidays in the Himalayas, trekking through Borneo, visiting far-flung wild destinations or suddenly taking up sports that they never had a chance to try when they were younger.
“The baby boomers are redefining life at older ages. That includes re-evaluating their relationships and deciding to start again.”
When many people reach their 60s they realise that they still have plenty of time to start a afresh and start broadening their horizons. However, no matter how old their parents are, many children find it very difficult to watch their parents divorce and it can lead to the break up of families. Many older couples who divorce struggle to maintain the good relationships they once had with their extended families.
TV presenter and journalist Esther Rantzen said she had been contacted by people who had divorced late in life and suffered terrible loneliness: “In some cases, divorce over 60 is by people who have stayed together for the sake for their children and when they leave and realise they are not happy and decide to split and get on with independent living. In these cases it’s generally OK. But there are also cases when one partner desperately wanted to stay married end up unexpectedly on their own at a very vulnerable time in their lives. I’ve had letters from older divorcees who were bewildered by what had suddenly happened and had experienced terrible loneliness. They feel they have been left high and dry in circumstances they had never anticipated and are very unhappy. It is a real tragedy.”