People with illnesses need more attention as they grow older. If your elderly loved one has HIV or AIDS, it might not be possible for you to take care of them on your own anymore. Finding the right place or person to care for someone with HIV/AIDS can help them manage this disease.
HIV vs. AIDS
Although oftentimes used interchangeably, HIV and AIDS refer to two different illnesses. HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus. This virus infects humans and attacks a person’s immune systems. HIV is manageable with medication, but once a person gets this virus, it remains in their system. Although, there is no cure for this disease, with proper medication, it is possible to keep it in check. Doctors prescribe medications called highly active antiretroviral therapy to people to manage HIV.
HIV can lead to AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Many people – especially young people – live for years with HIV before it turns into AIDS. When significant damage happens to the immune system as a result of HIV, AIDS will develop. This syndrome makes a person susceptible to many other illnesses. Common examples are pneumonia, infections, cancer, tuberculosis, etc.
Around 20% of people living with HIV here in the United States are 55 years old and up. As people become older, it becomes harder for them to fight HIV. The chances of this virus leading to AIDS increases. These people will need special treatment to ensure their health.
As people grow older, they sometimes need to live in nursing homes. But, a recent study shows that less than 1% of U.S. nursing homes provide specialized care for HIV. For this reason, a nursing home may not be the best option for your loved one with HIV. You should consider the following options:
- A home health care nurse or aide with experience working with HIV/AIDS patients. This will provide your loved one with specific care from the comfort of their home.
- Adult day care. If you would like to care for your loved one yourself, you might consider using an adult day care. You should only consider this option if their immune system is strong enough. Keep in mind that many adult day cares do not provide special help for those with HIV or AIDS. So, it is important to make sure that an adult day care center will not have a negative affect on your loved one.
- Specialized facility. It might be a good idea to seek out a living facility that specializes in HIV and AIDS treatment. This can ensure that your loved one remains safe and healthy.
It is important to make sure that every person caring for your loved one is aware of their condition. They should also be equipped to deal with it. Some people with HIV or AIDS face discrimination, because these illnesses are misunderstood. Any neglect or abuse as a result of your loved one’s condition is illegal. It should not be tolerated. You can contact a police officer or a lawyer for more help. For information on HIV/AIDS in older people, you may call 1-800-448-0440.