HIV AND AGEING:
Everyone Needs to Be Prepared!
Ageing is not for sissies!
That is a South African mantra and something I keep in mind when any aches and pains arrive. I remind myself that as a South African, I know that together with many of my ageing peers, we have immense resilience. Some people do not have a resilient nature and no idea how to apply strategies to guide them to ageing about their HIV status.
By Cindy Pivacic.
Ageing with HIV presents unique challenges, but with proper preparation and care, people living with HIV can lead long healthy lives. Here are some steps you can take to prepare yourself for ageing with HIV:
Maintain a healthy lifestyle: It is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep your immune system strong. This practice includes eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and managing stress.
Stay on top of your HIV treatment: Continuously take antiretroviral therapy (ART) to keep the virus under control to not damage your immune system. Stick to your medication schedule and attend all your medical appointments. Regular monitoring can also help detect any potential health issues. I have annual check-ups, including heart health, cancer, and other potential health issues. I have my viral load and CD4 count tests taken annually.
Stay informed: Staying up-to-date on the latest HIV research and advancements can help you make informed decisions about your care. Also, learn about common age-related health concerns that could affect people living with HIV, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
Build a support network: A support network can help you cope with the emotional and physical challenges of ageing with HIV. This network could include friends, family, support groups, and mental health professionals.
Engage in preventive care: People with HIV are at higher risk for certain infections and cancers. I have chosen to follow preventive care guidelines, such as getting vaccinated against pneumonia, influenza, and hepatitis B, and getting screened regularly for certain types of cancer. Vaccines are not a choice for everyone. I believe someone with HIV should consider this option.
Take care of your mental health: HIV can be a challenging condition to live with, and ageing can come with its own setbacks. It is vital to have a regimen to maintain your mental health by seeking counselling or therapy, and practising self-care. Stay socially connected with friends and family.
Ageing with HIV requires maintaining a healthy lifestyle, adhering to treatment, staying informed, building a support network, engaging in preventive care, and caring for your mental health. With the correct care and support, people living with HIV can age gracefully and live fulfilling lives.
A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, and is not a substitute for professional consultation with a health professional.
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