Retirement is commonly imagined as an idyllic, carefree time. However, for adults living with a serious disease such as HIV, retirement isn’t all that rosy—constant doctor visits, intensive medical regimens and the ever-present threat of mortality all complicate the picture. But by better understanding the virus and the importance of seeking HIV treatment, older adults with HIV can lead productive, healthy lives in their retirement years and beyond.
The Population Reference Bureau estimates that 7 percent of people living with the HIV virus are of retirement age. Additionally, nearly one-third of people who have the disease are over the age of 50. This group of people may be worried about their approaching retirement and how their illness will impact this milestone.
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Adults with HIV may not expect to have a long life expectancy, and as a result they may not stringently plan for retirement. However, it is important for individuals who are nearing retirement age to continue saving as if they did not have the virus. According to recent HIV statistics, HIV-positive adults in the U.K. have a nearly normal life expectancy, and the same holds true for adults living in the U.S. Some studies even suggest that people who have the virus may soon have a longer than average life expectancy, possibly due to the regular medical attention HIV-positive individuals receive.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services notes that the lifespan of a person living with the virus depends on the efficacy of medical treatments. Some people develop resistance to HIV medication, but others are able to effectively manage their illness well into retirement.
HIV Positive Magazine suggests that older adults should continue to consult financial planners in order to save for retirement. Moving to a desired area after retirement may be high on the list of priorities, but it is important for people who need regular HIV treatment to research hospitals, doctors and other medical facilities in a location before deciding whether to make the move.
Retired people who have HIV may also want to consider moving to a retirement community that focuses on treating HIV in older adults. These facilities employ medical professionals who are particularly knowledgeable when it comes to treating the illness, and the specialized care received at such a retirement home can make an HIV-positive person more comfortable, healthy and happy.
However, people who do not feel that a retirement community is the right fit for them should not feel pressured to move out of their own home. Modern HIV facts show that antiretroviral drugs and psychological treatment can allow a person who has the virus to lead a normal life at home or in a retirement facility.
Living with HIV can pose unique challenges for older adults of retirement age, but it is possible for a person to remain independent and enjoy a healthy retirement by managing their illness.