Caregiving for Veterans

Written by: Cypress HomeCare Solutions

Caregiving for a veteran may involve physical and mental obstacles. Caregivers need to be aware of these issues and how to professionally handle them with compassion.


PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. It’s a mental disorder resulting from witnessing or experiencing a distressful situation, in which the victim has difficulty recovering. Around 11-20% of those who fought in Iraq, 12% of those who fought in the Gulf War, and 15% of those who fought in Vietnam have/had PTSD.

There are three different types:

  • Acute—lasting less than three months
  • Chronic—lasting at least three months
  • Delayed Onset—lasting at least six months

That means even if the client being cared for served years ago, they may still be suffering. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Flashbacks
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia

How Caregivers Can Help

It’s crucial for caregivers to understand that they’re clients aren’t being difficult. They’re enduring a mental disorder.

  • Space— if a client suffers from flashbacks, they may become violent. It’s important for caregivers to step back, keep their hands away, and remind the client of where they are.
  • Patience— completing tasks for a client with anxiety may take longer than usual. The more rituals caregivers create though, the more familiarity the client will have.
  • Transparency— if the client struggles with paranoia, caregivers can try operating and serving as openly as possible. For example, inviting clients into the kitchen when cooking.

Physical Handicap

Approximately 29% of veterans have a service-related disability. Some of the tasks caregivers are already trained to do include:

  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Bathing

It’s important to keep in mind that for many veterans, their physical impairment could have been recent. They may not be able to fully accept or are even aware of what they need help with.

How Caregivers Can Help

Sensitivity is key.

  • Ask—if a caregiver believes their client needs assistance with a task, they should ask before assuming. They may be trying to help, but their gesture could be interpreted as offensive.
  • Compliment— if a caregiver notices their client does certain difficult tasks on their own, they can complement them. They should not be patronizing or belittling.
  • Talk– if it’s not triggering for the client, caregivers can ask about their experience in the military and how their disability occurred. They can ask how they’re coping and what perspective it’s given them. Talking can be a beautiful form of therapy.

Caregivers should not feel unequipped or fearful of taking on clients who are veterans. They should see it as an opportunity to learn about a different experience. If you or a loved one is a veteran in need of caregiving, contact Cypress. Interested in providing care for someone in need? Apply here.

We’re here to help.

Call (602) 264-8009 or contact us to learn more about home care services.

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