HIV lifestyle: tips for over 50s

Written by Brad

BODY

Keep active. There are lots of health benefits to physical exercise and it can help prevent age-related conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.1 “A little bit, often” is a good approach. Ideally, try to commit to an hour's physical activity that raises your heart and breathing rate significantly (aside from sex!... but that's good too) three times a week. The effort is ALWAYS worth it.

Know your body. Be aware of small changes, but don't become paranoid. Talk to your HIV Healthcare Professional (HCP) if something has changed. Some changes happen naturally due to ageing, but some may be HIV- or treatment-related. It could even be a combination of all three.

Don’t ignore it – When we hear an odd ‘knocking’ noise from our car engine, we don't ignore it and we don't automatically junk the car. We find out from an expert what they think. Do the same for your body! If something doesn’t feel right, speak to your HCP.

MIND

Be kind to yourself. Whether you were diagnosed 30 days ago, or 30 years ago, saying “I'm HIV positive” can be very difficult. Having a positive attitude towards your status will help big time.

Stigma can hurt. Even though HIV has been around for decades, it can still carry an unfair and unrealistic stigma. Managing this stigma, as well as everything else HIV-related, can sometimes add to a real mental strain.

Move in the right circles. Surround yourself with the positive strength of friends, family and peers who have educated themselves about HIV and with whom you can speak freely about what you’re experiencing.

Chat to an expert.  As with any life-challenging issue, talking with a HIV expert (doctor, nurse, counsellor, etc.) is a wise decision. Many people find that meeting with a HIV peer-mentor (a trained HIV positive volunteer) is very useful.

SOUL

Your experience is valuable. Whether you were diagnosed 30 days ago or 30 years ago, remind yourself how much you have to offer. We are an incredible resource of experience and accomplishment.

Full of spirit. Many of us have had to survive terrible events in our lifetimes. This experience can actually help us to meet life's future challenges and support others as well.

Keep yourself busy. Whatever your history or age, research shows that maintaining “meaningful occupation” and staying involved in society is hugely beneficial for a healthy body and mind.2 This could be anything from running a business to collecting stamps!

Be productive. Being HIV positive actually opens more doors for being productive. For example, you could consider volunteering for a local HIV organisation. Your experience and advice could benefit others going through the very same challenges!

If you want to find out more about ageing fabulously with HIV, give this article a read! www.aidsmap.com/news/aug-2017/what-successful-ageing-people-living-hiv

Want to know more about how to live well with HIV? Find out how HIV, diet and exercise all play a part in your wellbeing.

  1. Physical activity. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity [Accessed: May 2020].
  2. Gallagher M, et al. Front Psychol. 2015;6:1281.DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01281.
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