Fostering End-Of-Life Conversations, Community and Care Among LGBT Older Adults (Speaking Notes: Bradford McIntyre)
January 28, 2015- I would like to say how grateful I am, to have been a participant in the Fostering End-of-Life Conversations study and in this Town Hall Meeting, highlighting these important issues.
I'm 63 and I have been living infected with HIV for 31 years.
In 1985, I was told by an AIDS specialist to: go home and inform my family, arrange my finances and funeral, I had six months to live. At that time, an HIV diagnosis meant getting your affairs in order.
Over the years, I have been near death several times and have dealt with chronic illnesses throughout and even now.
No one is more surprised than me that I am alive in 2015, here with you, discussing LGBT and Aging.
There are more people over the age of 50 living with HIV than ever before. The Global HIV epidemic is aging with 4.2 million older adults worldwide. According to the Canadian AIDS Society, among all reported AIDS cases of older Canadians, 52% were among gay men.
Aging with HIV is NOT just like aging without HIV.
Managing HIV is an ongoing process which may include :
Physically, mentally and emotionally
Stigma and discrimination
Chronic health issues
HIV/AIDS Medications are necessary for the rest of your life.
There may be side effects and interactions of antiretroviral medications on: hormonal health, kidney and liver, bone density and neurocognitive disorders.
Other concerns may be related to:
Body and facial changes. Personally, I have weighed as little as 128 pounds and in 2004, I had facial reconstruction due to the loss of fat in my face (Facial Wasting), a result of both HIV infection and the medications prescribed to treat HIV. Concerns related to social isolation, limited resources, Disability Pension, and limited affordable housing. There may be fewer opportunities for social engagement!
Long term care may be an issue or the lack of a caregiver! Senior housing in a straight environment may be concerning .
HIV/AIDs medications affect aging people and may interact with other conditions. There is renewed fear of illness due to aging, heart disease, cancer, prostate health and colorectal health.
Personally, I haven't really spent time planning for aging. I have been focused on trying to stay alive. I have arranged my Will, Power of Attorney, caregiver and plan for In-H ome nursing care .
I would like the right to die at my choosing. I am a member of the Farewell Foundation, supporting right to die.
Having been a study participant, now my husband Deni and I, along with my family and friends are continuing these conversations. The opportunity to be involved with these participating groups has highlighted the importance of ongoing End of Life Conversations.
I'm really happy to be involved in this essential work. Thank you very much to the Simon Fraser Gerontology group and all those associated .