How To Help An Elderly, Divorced Parent

Young adults are getting divorced less often while divorce rates are increasing for older adults. This new divorce demographic has been labeled “gray divorce” to distinguish it from the divorce rate of people under 50 years of age.

The Gray Divorce Revolution: Rising Divorce Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults, 1990–2010,” a longitudinal study in the Journals of Gerontology summarizes their results:

  • “The divorce rate among adults aged 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010. Roughly 1 in 4 divorces in 2010 occurred to persons aged 50 and older. Demographic characteristics, economic resources, and the marital biography were associated with the risk of divorce in 2010. The rate of divorce was 2.5 times higher for those in remarriages versus first marriages, whereas the divorce rate declined as marital duration rose.”

Besides disrupting the lives of the divorced couple in a way that takes years to recover from, gray divorce also affects how their grown-up children get caught in the middle.

Here are 3 ways for adults to provide positive assistance to parents going their separate ways, rather than giving into any negativity arising from the divorce:

  1. Helping one or both get situated living alone.

Living alone can be positively overwhelming for someone who has had a life companion for many years, possibly many decades. The older a parent, the more difficult it can be, particularly if there is the risk of falling and breaking a fragile bone. Adult children often worry about what might happen if Mom or Dad falls and there is no one around to get emergency help. In this situation, it would be a good idea to get a fall alarm device called a Home Fall Detection Medical Alert.If the parent has fallen and is aware of what has happened, they can connect with a 24/7 command center at the push of a button. If the parent has been knocked unconscious by the fall, the device still detects falls and automatically calls for help.

If a parent is fairly healthy and able to be self-sufficient, their biggest risk when living alone is falling for scams. Many con artists try to scam single, elderly people through a variety of online and offline scams. Con artists often lurk on online dating sites, money-making sites, and gambling sites, among others. Offline scams come by way of unsolicited telephone calls and letters in the mail. The best way to ward off these threats is through educating a parent on common risks they might face when talking to strangers either online or offline.

  1. Managing Caregiving Costs.

The biggest difficulty in helping an aging parent is the high costs of caregiving. This can be particularly difficult if the adult child can barely make his or her income stretch to fit their own bills. Fortunately, local, federal, and state government agencies can provide some financial relief. Finding out about what type of assistance is available can be done online. Two highly informative websites are Benefits.gov and www. Benefitscheckup.org.

Benefits.gov helps gather critical information about an elderly parent and then recommends where to submit this information.The site helps gather logistical and statistical information that include medical information, disability, military service, and education level. This information makes it possible to fill out application forms for assistance, and the website provides a list of government programs and services where to apply.

Meanwhile, the National Council on Aging which runs the non-profit site www.Benefitscheckup.org provides another list of programs that can be contacted for assistance.

Some other  good sources for finding out more about getting help in taking care of an aging parent include

  • ·Social Security
  • ·Medicare
  • ·Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
  • ·Administration on Aging (AoA)
  • ·HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1966)
  • ·Area Agency on Aging
  • ·Your U.S. Senator
  • ·Your Congressional Representative
  • ·United States Department of Justice
  • ·Food and Drug Administration
  1. Identifying Creeping Psychological Problems.

The signs of increasing psychological problems among the elderly are often dismissed as signs of aging. With the right psychological intervention, it’s possible to reverse some early signs of mental disorder. Common signs of psychological distress among the elderly include feeling depressed all the time, losing interest in activities that they used to enjoy, becoming socially withdrawn, and having problems with eating or sleeping. These symptoms can get worse over time but can be reversed through private or group therapy sessions with a geropsychologist.

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