Different organizations and government agencies seem to set their own standards for who is "Silver" or who is a "Senior." In any case, as you get older, your goal should be to successfully age with HIV. This means you should work toward this goal physically - because so much depends on your health and financially - because you're going to live a long life so you'll need to be secure.
If you have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, it is more important than ever to follow your doctor's orders and bring those conditions under control. They may represent a bigger danger than your HIV!
It's also important to understand about nutrition. Once upon a time, in the bad old days before effective HIV regimens were available, wasting was a huge problem. To combat it, we told people with HIV to eat rich fatty and sugary foods without regard to the quality of the calories. That's not the advice we give now! But, unfortunately, some people with HIV are still following those outdated recommendations. A recent study found that HIV-positive people consume more total fat and saturated fat, and less fiber, than those who are HIV-negative.
So let's be clear: Your best bet is to eat for longevity-just like everyone else. That means a heart-healthy diet low in fats (especially saturated fats), and high in fiber. That means filling your shopping cart with fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and whole grains. It means cooking with healthy olive oil or canola oil.
Here are some super foods that can help keep your body young and healthy:
If you can't get the food you need because of financial problems, health issues or being home restricted, ask your dietitian, social worker, or other healthcare professionals about local meal programs. There are many great agencies like "Meals On Wheels" as well as HIV-specific programs like "God's Love We Deliver" in New York City.
People over 50 have special requirements to promote optimal health. In addition to your regular balanced diet, you probably need an increased amount of select nutrients like calcium, fiber, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and water, compared to younger adults.
Calcium & Vitamin D.
How Important is Exercise?
Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs put 15,660 men with an average age of 60 on a treadmill to test their physical fitness. Then they ranked them into four categories: least fit, moderately fit, highly fit, and very highly fit.Eight years later, they followed up to see who was still alive.
In the least fit group, 44 percent had died. In the moderately fit group, 30 percent had died. In the highly fit group, 15 percent had died. In the very highly fit group, only 8 percent had died. A dramatic difference!
So when you think about a healthy lifestyle, be sure it includes regular physical activity. "A little bit of exercise goes a long way," said Peter Kokkinos, lead author of the study. "Thirty minutes a day, five days a week of brisk walking is likely to reduce the risk of mortality by 50 percent if not more."
Each person’s situation is different, due to individual needs and concerns. Talking to friends and family or support groups can be very helpful, but it’s also worthwhile to explore your options on your own.
Consult a financial planner
Change in income
Those with long-term disability may also be offered a lump sum payout at some point close to age 65 when their payments would stop. These offers may be reasonable and allow you to invest on your own, but they can also be unreasonable offers. If you’re offered a lump sum payment, it’s important to see a professional to determine if it fits your needs.
Change in residency
One is your doctor or medical provider. Even if you’re not moving out of your home or move just a town away, you may not be able to keep your current doctor because he or she is not in the Medicare plan you choose when you turn 65. Think about what hospitals and other types of services and facilities are available to you.
Another consideration is that while moving may be a necessity, it often means that you’re leaving friends and sometimes family and support networks that you’ve developed over your lifetime. Your support networks and environment are extremely important to maintaining your health.
Before you make any final decisions on a move, identify the factors that help you maintain your health and well being. Then do as much research as possible, including visiting and even staying in the places you are considering.
It is absolutely possible to be happy, healthy and satisfied as you move through your second half-century of life. You can continue to have good quality of life by adopting healthy habits. HIV therapies are continuing to improve, and managing HIV will only get easier in the future. Stay informed, and take good care of yourself now and for all the fantastic years to come!
Alan Lee, RD, CDE, CDN, CFT and Anne Donnelly, MA contributed to this article.
Copyright 2017, Positive Health Publications, Inc.
This magazine is intended to enhance your relationship with your doctor - not replace it! Medical treatments and products should always be discussed with a licensed physician who has experience treating HIV and AIDS!