As important as self-care is for everyone, it is even more imperative for veterans. It is because they serve in the most difficult situations, face health hazards, and expose themselves to the most harmful chemical compounds during service. Moreover, their mental health also requires attention as they endure a lot during service with the added stress of transitioning from military to civilian life.
Moreover, your healthcare needs may enhance as you age. Consequently, you need to identify your body’s needs according to age. For example, if you retire in your 60s, you need to be more conscious of your heart’s health than you might have been during your 20s.
Therefore, if you are an aging veteran, there are some essential self-care tips that you can follow for your overall health. As health experts advise, these will help you with your physical and mental health.
Below are some of those tips.
1. Get Regular Health Checks
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers multiple healthcare services to all veterans. They also provide free healthcare visits, whether they look healthy or not. Therefore, even if you feel fine, taking advantage of such visits is essential.
It is because not all health problems are apparent and might surface years after the disease has already reached a fatal stage. For example, you can visit the veterans mesothelioma center, where experts help those exposed to asbestos during service. However, its symptoms may not show until years later. Even then, the symptoms can be in the form of a common cold or illness. Therefore, a thorough health check is necessary.
If the doctor diagnoses you with mesothelioma, you are eligible to receive financial compensation to cover your medical expenses. Moreover, your doctor will also check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other vitals to see if they are normal. They may recommend certain foods or activities to abstain from while encouraging you to embrace a healthy lifestyle to get all levels back to normal.
You must follow your doctor’s instructions to maintain good health.
2. Address Injuries as Early as Possible
It is important not to ignore any injury that you sustained during service. Even a minor injury could have disastrous consequences without you realizing it in the form of internal bleeding or infection. Also, consider PTSD or mental trauma that you may be going through as a serious matter. Ignoring such hard-to-detect problems or dealing with them alone can have long-term consequences.
Therefore, do not delay addressing such injuries. Seek help from the available veteran resources and get the necessary treatment, check-ups, physical therapies, or counseling.
Furthermore, you can also take advantage of hotlines such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line if you struggle with mental health concerns.
The more serious your injury is, the more conscious you must remain and seek attention as early as possible.
3. Quit Unhealthy Habits and replace them with Healthy Ones
An important part of self-care is quitting unhealthy habits. It includes smoking, drinking, eating junk and processed foods, and spending too much time sitting or in front of a screen. Get the required help you need to quit addictive habits.
Without quitting such habits, healthy habits may not take effect. You have to remain consistent when adopting healthy habits. For example, you may get lethargic or lose your breath while working out too quickly as a smoker, hindering your workout routine. Therefore, maintaining your metabolism and keeping your strength up is essential for a stronger body, which you cannot achieve if you keep smoking.
Similarly, spending too much time in front of the television, laptop, or phone screen while sitting damages your health in multiple ways. It hinders your brain development and lowers your productivity.
Meanwhile, pursuing an active lifestyle, eating healthily, and avoiding bad habits enhances productivity. It is never too late to break a bad habit.
4. Be Socially Active
There are many avenues for veterans to indulge in social activities. The VA center offers multiple opportunities for veterans and their families to involve in social activities geared towards making the transition from military to civilian life easier. The transition is something that you may not be able to achieve on your own.
The more you surround yourself with your loved ones, the more socially satisfied you will feel. The more satisfied you are, the better your mental health will be.
Moreover, involving yourself within the community can be very self-rewarding. You can join a religious group or a retreat if you seek inner peace. Similarly, you can also join local clubs and community programs that interest you the most.
Participating in voluntary activities, contributing towards causes close to your heart, or mentoring someone planning to join the military can also be very rewarding and socially stimulating.
Alternatively, you can join a retirement community and spend more time with people your age while indulging in your most loved activities.
Strengthening old relationships while making new ones is also a form of self-care.
5. Get the Required Vaccines
Certain vaccines are available specifically for veterans recommended by the Veterans Affairs department. These include influenza shots, pneumococcal vaccine, and Covid-19 vaccine.
However, the vaccines administered are based on the veteran’s experience, place of deployment, years of service, and mission requirements. Those who have to operate under harsh or tough conditions may be eligible for Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Nipah virus, West Nile encephalitis, Norwalk virus, and Lassa fever vaccines, among others.
Such vaccines are for individuals with high occupational risk and have a screening process due to potential supply shortages. They may be administered on a need and priority basis. However, you can check if you are eligible on the VA website and get the required resources to get the vaccines.
It is never too late to indulge in self-care and make your health a priority. It is especially essential for veterans since they operate under harsh conditions and may sustain injuries.
No matter how old you are or when you retire, always get a regular health check. However, you might need it more often in your 50s and 60s. Moreover, address any injuries you may have sustained during service as early as possible, no matter how minor they may seem.
It is equally imperative to quit unhealthy habits and adopt healthy ones. Quit smoking, drinking, or eating processed foods. Replace them with healthy habits and pursue an active lifestyle.
Following the tips above will ensure stable health, peace, and a balanced lifestyle.