HIV is no longer considered the terminal illness that it was in the 1980s. Major improvements in treatments means that in most cases HIV is now a manageable long-term condition.
If someone is diagnosed early and put on treatment it is likely they will enjoy a normal life expectancy. People living with HIV have anxieties about accessing older people services if they are not HIV specific, due to stigma against people living with HIV and some of the subgroups associated with this illness, including gay men, people who use drugs and sex workers.
Regardless of HIV, growing older for many people might involve poorer health, reduced income, and fear for the future. Health care may become more complex due to conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and cardiovascular problems. These age-related conditions may be accelerated and complicated by HIV and HIV treatments. A good relationship with your clinic and GP means that these can be detected earlier and addressed.
Planning for your Pension
With good health care, you may be able to work longer and plan for retirement, drawing a pension and old age. However, supporting yourself in old age can be difficult, especially if you have been unable to work due to ill health. In Scotland, a state pension is available to support you. There are many things that may affect how much pension you are entitled to such as marital or civil partnership status and employment history. For support and advice on drawing a state pension see Age Scotland’s State Pension Factsheet.
Making a Will
Ensuring your affairs are in order is one of the most important things you can do when preparing for old age. Making a will isn’t as time consuming or difficult as you may think it is. A will is a way of making sure your money, property and belongings go to who you want to when you die and if you have any children under 16, who will look after them.
It is especially important if you and your partner are not married or not in a civil partnership as without a will, your estate will automatically go to your family. This means they have the right to choose what your partner will or will not receive from your estate.
If you have a disability, you may be eligible for financial help when making a will. For more information visit Age Scotland .
Choosing the best care for you
There may come a time, like most people, when you can no longer look after yourself and will need to think about your care. Living with HIV may make choosing your residential or home care a little more complicated and there are some points you may want to consider.
- Disclosure: What is the care homes policy on confidentiality and disclosure? Have they had experience caring for someone living with HIV before?
- Medical care: Who is responsible for your medical care? HIV may not be your only health condition so it is important that you are confident and happy with the care they will provide.
- There are specialised HIV care homes in the UK which you may want to consider. Visit Age Scotland for more information.