World AIDS Day - How to Care For Seniors Living With HIV

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is a life-threatening condition which is caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Every year, we observe 1st December as World AIDS Day. This day is dedicated to spreading awareness among people about the fight against HIV.

It is also a day where we remember those who have lost their lives to this deadly disease. According to data released by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in 2017, more than 2.1 million people were living with HIV in India.

One common belief among people is that HIV/AIDS only affects the young population. This has led to a situation where most of the prevention efforts are dedicated towards the youth. However, data suggests that people over the age of 50 are equally prone to HIV/AIDS infection.

Seniors Living with HIV

Due to lack of awareness, many older adults are not diagnosed with HIV until it reaches the later stages. Thus, by the time, seniors receive their HIV diagnosis, they may have already advanced to AIDS.

Although the past few decades have seen commendable progress in the fields of healthcare and medicine, the current system is still believed to be underprepared for the treatment of older adults with HIV infection.

There are some seniors who have been living with HIV for a long time and there are others who have been diagnosed at an older age. However, regardless of their state, HIV is known to have quite a serious impact on the elderly and results in various other health concerns as well.

Some of the health issues that are seen in people living with HIV are:

  • Diabetes
  • Memory-related issues
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Liver and kidney failure
  • Cancer

In spite of all of these health concerns, most of us are unaware of the risks of HIV/AIDS. On this World AIDS Day, it is important that we spread awareness about seniors living with HIV and understand their needs or requirements during this phase.

Taking care of seniors living with HIV

1. Avoid Smoking - Seniors living with HIV are prone to health issues like diabetes and cancer. Regular smoking can cause even more damage to their health and may result in an increased deterioration of their overall health.

2. Staying Physically Active - One of the best ways to tackle HIV in older adults is through regular physical activity. Although aging with HIV can be damaging, seniors can take up various online activities like Virtual Zumba Workshops or Online Yoga Sessions to stay physically fit and active.

3. Reduce Alcohol Intake - Alcohol can be a serious cause for concern, especially among elders who are living with HIV. Since, regular alcohol consumption can lead to liver disease or kidney-related problems, it can cause even more health issues among people who are already dealing with HIV.

4. Staying Protected - People usually experience a gradual decline in their sexual life during old age. However, it is still essential to stay protected during intercourse by using various contraceptive measures. This is one of the most important messages that seniors need to consider on this World AIDS Day.

5. Opting for Long-Term Treatment - One of the best ways to fight against HIV is to undertake long-term treatment. This can prove to extremely beneficial for seniors living with HIV as they experience the positive effects of HIV treatment over a longer period of time.

6. Maintain A Healthy Diet - Loss of appetite is one of the most common issues among seniors living with HIV. Thus, having a healthy diet with the right amount of nutrition can play an important role in avoiding unnatural weight loss and can help the elderly live a healthy lifestyle.

Speaking of which…

7. Proper Weight Management - Due to reduced physical activity, seniors often have to deal with extreme weight loss or extreme weight gain. This can add to the already existing health issues that seniors face and needs to be addressed by adopting an ideal weight management routine.

8. Mental Health - Although World AIDS Day is dedicated to spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS, the day also highlights the importance of mental health among seniors living with HIV. Partaking in online activities and staying socially active are a few ways through which seniors can combat mental health issues like depression and loneliness.

9. Talking To Doctors - Since, aging with HIV also brings other health issues, it is important for seniors to talk to their doctors about the different kinds of medications or treatments that they are currently undergoing. This can avoid any unwanted complications and can allow the doctors to recommend the ideal treatment.

10. Feeling Comfortable - A lot of times, seniors who are living with HIV are treated differently by their own family and friends. However, this can a negative impact on their mental health and can also affect their will to fight against HIV.

While aging with HIV is a serious issue, we can still help those affected with the disease to fight through it. World AIDS Day is dedicated to talk about the people who are living with HIV and this can only be done when we all of are fully aware about the causes and effects of this problem.