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BACKGROUND: There may be ongoing psychological problems associated with military service later in life; yet as the elderly in the general population also suffer from mental health problems, whether such issues can be attributed to military service or are a feature of ageing remains unclear. This study aimed to explore veteran and nonveteran perceptions of the impact of their occupation on their psychological well-being later in life. METHODS: Twenty-five veterans (≥65 y); 25 nonveterans (≥65 y); 10 veterans with diagnoses of mental health issues (≥65 y); and a close companion of all participants (≥18 y, spouse, child, and close friend) were recruited. Using a qualitative approach, participants completed semistructured qualitative interviews with measures of psychological adjustment used to describe the sample. RESULTS: Veterans were found to experience higher levels of workplace stress and trauma exposure compared with nonveterans. When such challenges were positively appraised, veterans described increased confidence and resilience. Social support in response to occupational stress was central to veteran and nonveteran well-being, especially for those with mental health problems. Nonetheless, providing support was challenging for close companions, with many feeling overwhelmed and requiring additional guidance from the veteran's clinical care team. CONCLUSIONS: The findings delineate the impact of occupation on the well-being of older veterans and nonveterans. The results illustrated the psychological support needs and formal guidance desired by veterans, nonveterans, and their families, which could ultimately improve coping of both the individual and family.

Original publication

DOI

10.1002/gps.5131

Type

Journal article

Journal

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry

Publication Date

10/2019

Volume

34

Pages

1412 - 1420

Keywords

mental health, military, occupation, veteran, Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, Aged, Family, Female, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Mental Health, Middle Aged, Military Personnel, Occupational Stress, Qualitative Research, Social Support, Stress, Psychological, United Kingdom, Veterans