6 Ways to Help Veterans Stay Healthy

Military service comes with a price. Veterans often return from service with mental and physical injuries, not to mention post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These wounds make it difficult to carry on a normal life. With a lack of proper funding for veterans in the United States of America, it often falls to families of veterans to care for them despite being ill-equipped since the required methods differ significantly from those employed for the average senior citizen. It may be tempting to focus only on short-term support and treatment for these veterans, but to give them the best care, we need to think about the long-term effects that military service has had on their lives. Here are some ways to help veterans stay healthy.

  1. Keep Their Past In Mind

Many veterans suffer from the after-effects of old injuries. Though fully healed, some injuries can cause joint pain, often amplified with age. Medicine and physical therapy are required to treat old injuries. Besides that, many veterans suffer from exposure to dangerous chemicals on the battleground, from radiation to toxic waste, and even dust can cause issues in later life. Cases of asbestos exposure are fairly common, considering its use by the U.S. military up until 1980 and eventually lead to the development of mesothelioma, a rare but often fatal lung cancer. If you can identify a similar situation, please head to for further information, as the armed services often provide disability aid and afford health expenses for cases of exposure during service. Besides physical health, mental health can also be a major issue. Most veterans who have served in war have PTSD and can experience flashbacks, hallucinations, or even night terrors, which only aid in mental decline. It is up to the caretakers to provide support and seek professional mental health services for the patient.

2. Keep Them Active

Having spent a life in the military, veterans are used to rigorous workouts and a demanding physical routine. Taking them off of physical activities completely can cause muscles to atrophy, especially if they have injuries that confine them to the bed. For physically fit veterans, 30 minutes to an hour of moderate exercise every day should do the trick. Senior citizens also tend to prefer yoga, which helps with mental health too. Exercise in general, helps with depression. In cases of injury, physical therapists are to be contacted to prescribe proper exercise regimens that will provide pain relief, keep the muscles working, and keep them healthy.

3. Be Cautious of Medication

Most veterans are prescribed several different types of medications leading up to the VA examination. Though most veterans do not become addicted to or abuse their medication, it is still necessary to exercise caution, as rates for substance use are higher in this certain demographic. Due to the mind-altering effects of medications, they should be monitored while under treatment. If they are being prescribed questionable medicine by a non-military affiliated doctor, seek second and third opinions. For those who would like to keep that aspect in mind, seek medication with a lower potential for addiction and one free from side effects or contraindications.

4. Seek Residential Care

Veterans are often unlikely to ask for help and support. Military culture isn’t known for asking for assistance, and many believe they must do it independently. In most cases, this makes them feel very isolated in their homes, primarily since they are used to having close friends around them on duty. Some have even been known to go into depression due to the isolation and loneliness of a house that feels too big now that everyone is gone. In addition, they may be more likely to attempt suicide due to the high rates of PTSD and depression that many tend to experience after service. These individuals’ caretakers need to seek ways for elderly veterans to interact with others at a senior home or assisted living facility. Being surrounded by people of the same age group can do wonders for interaction and help bring a sense of unconditional support to the friend group.

5. Stay up-to-date On Vaccines

Due to their frequent travels, veterans often get exposed to various viruses and bacteria that may be stronger in their old age. Therefore, they must keep their immunizations up-to-date and be open to new vaccinations as they enter old age, especially if they are in contact with the elderly or are senior citizens themselves. In addition, being more vulnerable to certain diseases, they must be up-to-date with the necessary vaccinations and have a proper physician at all times. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs recommends certain vaccines for all veterans to receive, so follow the provided guidelines on that front. 

6. Encourage New Interests

Many veterans have been used to a life of challenge and thus tend to be extremely cautious of risky activities. This is especially true with new hobbies veterans haven’t had in ages. In the case of sports, they may experience declining motor skills that could lead to injury and restrict their lives even more. With this in mind, it is crucial to encourage veterans into new hobbies that are both physically and mentally safe. This could consist of tasks such as playing a musical instrument or taking up journaling. Photography, scrapbooking, reading, writing, cooking, gardening, and yoga are just a few readily available options that’ll keep the mind relaxed but busy.

Seniors and the elderly face several physical and mental challenges as they enter old age. Unfortunately, many of these aspects are exacerbated in veterans who can see their quality of life decline due to complex injuries and mental disorders. Veterans, who have been used to a certain lifestyle and enjoyed a sense of purpose that’s hard to find elsewhere, may not be able to adjust well and feel very isolated in their homes. Being used to close teamwork throughout their lives, they must seek friends to help them stay active despite limitations such as injury or arthritis. A strong, healthy support system can prove invaluable in the life of a veteran, so be sure to prepare well and practice perseverance when you take on the role of caregiver, and you’ll be just fine.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *