26 April, 2023

As veterans age, it’s vital that they have a loving and supportive environment.

Veterans may experience lasting effects and traumas that make ageing even more difficult.

We offer some information about potential issues facing elderly veterans, and how you can lovingly support them throughout their old age.


1.      Be informed about needs specific to ageing veterans.

27% of Australian veterans are reported to have mental or behavioural conditions. They face increased risk for mental health disorders, especially Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), dementia, depression, and anxiety.

These mental health conditions may come across as anger, irritability, pain, sleep difficulty, mobility issues, memory problems, substance abuse, and more. Veterans may also face service-related physical disabilities that can make ageing more difficult.

Understanding how such disorders impact your loved one’s mental and physical health can help you to develop a sense of compassion and empathy towards their unique needs as an elderly veteran.


2.      Utilise resources available specifically for ageing veterans.

Australia offers a host of resources for ageing veterans. Encourage and assist your loved one to access:

  1. Mental health resources through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DFA)
  2. Support through the Returned Services League (RSL)
  3. Veteran’s Supplement for aged care


3.      Encourage activities that engage the mind and body.

Exercising the body and the brain can reduce  the symptoms of ageing and can help us live longer, healthier lives.

If you feel it is okay to do so, ask your older veteran family member or friend about their experience serving in the military. Asking them to share stories may be a helpful outlet for them - this shows them your support, creates a safe environment for sharing, and can break down stigmas and stereotypes.

You can also help your loved one to access a supportive community or social group to engage with, such as:


4.      Look after your own wellbeing, too.

Being a family member, spouse, or widow of a veteran can contribute to mental health conditions such as PTSD and intergenerational trauma. For example, Australians whose parents have been deployed are at higher risk for PTSD than those whose parents have not been deployed.

“Families are fundamental in the support system for serving and ex-serving military personnel who have a mental health disorder. Similarly, families living with a veteran with mental health issues need support and understanding.”
-Australian Family Physician

The DVA offers a range of support services for families, spouses, and widows of veterans in Australia.


Relationships Australia Queensland’s Senior Social Connection Program helps older Queenslanders in Sunshine Coast and Gympie to stay connected.

If you or an older person you know is feeling lonely or socially isolated, our Senior Relationships Services are here to help. Our experienced counsellors can help you explore your concerns and possible solutions in a safe and supportive environment.

You can learn more about our Senior Social Connection Program here, or call 1300 063 232 to make an appointment.


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