Growing Old With HIV And How To Cope With Aging

Growing Old With HIV And How To Cope With Aging

Paul Thorn, author of HIV Happy, talks about how to deal with those grey hairs you never thought you would have.

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Time is the great equalizer.

We are all subject to it, whomever you are; however popular, talented, toned or gorgeous – whether you are HIV-positive or not.

Aging is a natural process. We have no choice but to accept it, no matter how many grey hairs we dye. How we choose to deal with it is the key.

HIV has seen changes of its own, namely that huge innovation in treatment means we can manage the virus into our older age, moving into unchartered territory.

Experts are also predicting that many on treatment will live long and healthy lives. This is amazing, but it comes with new challenges to our physical health, emotional wellbeing and future happiness.

It is also well-documented that living with a long-term health condition can cause issues such as stigma, anxiety and depression, which can be amplified alongside typical issues that come with aging such as loneliness, independence when it comes to caring for yourself, and isolation.

Plus, no matter whether you’re a veteran or just setting sail on your HIV journey, your HIV diagnosis can throw you off course, leaving you feeling at sea without a compass. All in all, this isn’t a list of things to be thrilled about.

But never fear; some guidance is here! Here are six tips that could help maintain and improve your emotional health when ageing with HIV.

Whether you’re a spring chicken or a silver fox, getting started now is best, as I believe it’s the seeds we plant today that we harvest in the future as we get older.

Be Kind To Yourself

By this, I mean your ‘self-care’. Priorities are to take your medication, eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and treat yourself to something nice from time to time, however small.

Make sure you are doing something every day which puts a smile on your face.

Set Yourself Achievable Goals

Try doing small but productive things at home. Making a tiny change every day can have a huge impact over time, even if it is just clearing out a drawer, or throwing away that ugly pair of jeans you know you’re never going to wear.

The more you do this, the easier it gets and the bigger the results.

Be Aware Of Your Thinking

When our self-esteem is low, we have the potential to be our own worst enemies. In fact, that little voice in your head might not be on your side that often. Being aware of your thinking is the first step to dealing with this.

Many people have made real progress by participating in mindfulness classes, others from gentle or more challenging levels of exercise such as yoga (which has the added benefit of super flexibility!).

Why not check what’s available in your area or online and try a few things out? Turn your inner dialogue into your number one fan instead of a hater.

Paul Thorn

Get Some Gratitude

Being grateful for what we do have in our lives can be very powerful. Writing a list of what you can be grateful for regularly can really shift your thinking to a better place. I do this daily and it works for me.

Amongst other things this week, I’ve experienced gratitude for my home and having everything I need; that I made time for coffee with good friends; being warm and cosy in my new white linen duvet set at night when it’s raining.

It might sound a bit cheesy, but each of those grey hairs is a gift I didn’t think I would get!

Never Be Afraid To Ask For What You Need

Speak to a relevant professional or local HIV organization to find out what they offer, and get stuck into on-line resources. Many such organizations know there are challenges posed when HIV and aging pair up, and are adapting their services and what they offer in response. Get in touch with your local organization and speak to them about your needs.

Invest Time In Your Friendships

My friends are so important to me and have got me through some of the hardest times in my life. I believe that a small but strong core group of friends will endure.

My advice is – be a good friend to others and you too will have good friends. But most of all, don’t forget to be a good friend to yourself.

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For more information on how to look after your long-term health and happiness, head over to www.myhivmyrules.co.uk/my-info/ for more information. This article has been written as part of the My HIV, My Rules, My Journey campaign, a disease awareness programme that has been developed and paid for by Gilead Sciences Ltd.

Paul Thorn is the author of HIV Happy available on Amazon. The Second Edition will be published on December 1st 2017, World AIDS Day.

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9 Comments

  1. Mandy
    October 25, 07:49 Reply

    Gay, single, HIV positive and ageing. There’s just something depressing about being a combo of all four.

    • trystham
      October 25, 10:39 Reply

      makes one feel ulvillage ppl completed work on one’s head

  2. Foxydevil
    October 26, 00:35 Reply

    What the hell did I just read?
    Another piece of sentimental bull crap!
    I swear I learnt more dating a doctor for three months or was it less?? ( who is counting ?)

    The immune system of a person infected with the HIV virus is constantly inflamed. The anti bodies are constantly fighting off the virus , this propels faster aging and all the condiments associated with it.
    ************
    The truth is that we are all gonna die eventually, and there is no guarantee that you’d last longer than someone with the virus, but life is far much easier without it.

    The writer makes it seem like being HIV positive and aging is like walking into a candy shop and picking a candy bar, but the reality is much more daunting.

    First off… HIV leads to premature aging.
    A negative person that has aged begins to experience some ailments associated with age at their seventies and eighties but, one with HIV will most likely begin to experience these diseases at their fifties.

    Like I mentioned earlier, the internal organs of one with HIV is constantly inflamed , this can speed up cardio vascular diseases.

    The effect of taking anti retroviral drugs over a sizeable period of time can eventually lead to liver damage, obstruction of kidney functions and development of cancerous cells.

    HIV as a disease is something that must be taken seriously , even more so if you are POZ.
    You don’t beat HIV and aging by making out time with friends or giving yourself a treat…..

    You do so by befriending your doctor, to the point ..he is the first person you call in the morning and the last person you call at night,
    drastic diet change, regular exercises,
    Smoking and alcohol intake cannot be condoned .

    Aging and HIV can very well be managed ,
    but let’s give people the hardcore truth… not this pepperoni spiced pizza article that looks like one of those “how to get rich in seven days ” pamphlets they sell at local bus stands.
    Imma out of here ?.

    • Sens8
      October 26, 09:18 Reply

      You know what, your dumbfuckery is beginning to piss me off. If you had stayed with your doctor boyfriend for a bit longer, you may have learned a thing or two but I guess he was tired of you and before you say you broke it off, he probably decided you’d be better off if you thought you were the one ending things. How nice of him!!!

      You actually started off like someone with a smidgen of knowledge but I guess your arse took over your thought processes with its own version of snide, like it always seems to do, then you ended up regurgitating what the post said. So you think living with HIV means you have to be constantly badgering your doctor. And the comment about organs being constantly inflamed?!! Damn!!! You are ignorant! What are you? Mid twenties at best? How many people do you know that actually live with HIV? For starters, there are people who have lived with it long before you were born and if you still remain like this, it’s possible they’ll be here longer than you. You want to compare taking 20+ pills every day to just one? Come back and display your ignorance when you’ve actually met someone who has been living with HIV for more than three decades, then you’ll have something to say. I highly recommend you do what you said at the end of your comment and stay away.

      • Pankar
        October 26, 13:13 Reply

        Easy with him Sens8, he’s just in his twenties. What did you expect?

        • Sens8
          October 26, 13:58 Reply

          If the cretin has nothing to say on the subject, then let him zip it. He’s a Cumulina who thinks he’s a trilobite because he’s got access to the internet which, sadly, he spends most of his time on but actually learns nothing from it.

      • Gad
        October 26, 19:14 Reply

        I assure you of one thing, if man didn’t reward you for this invaluable contribution of yours,God WILL surely reward you.
        May God increase your wisdom and bless you abundantly.

  3. Simba
    October 27, 07:23 Reply

    Oh saw this late…. Foxy… Pls stop writing things not backed with scientific facts…

  4. Canis VY Majoris
    October 27, 10:38 Reply

    To all my brothers and sisters…living with the virus. May the journey be pleasant and bearable.

    Life is not guaranteed. Let each moment mean something.

    And to those of us who are free of the virus. Safe sex is the best sex.

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