Back to contents

Preparing for the future

Deal with money issues

As you get older, your circumstances and your needs are likely to change. While it’s hard to know exactly how life will be in a few years’ time, there may be things you can do now which could make things easier for you in the future.

To begin with, it’s a good idea to take stock of your financial situation, so that you can prepare for your future financial needs. You’ll need to work out what income you are likely to have and whether there is anything you can do to boost it. If you are of working age, staying in work or getting back into work could be important for your future finances.

A financial adviser can talk through the options you have. For example, depending on your personal circumstances, you might be advised to pay more into a pension, build up savings or make some investments.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, it’s worth checking that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to. You can also get advice on dealing with debts and ways to cut your spending.

To get more information and advice on this – and all the other topics in this part of the booklet – see the resources in the Find out more section, below.

Work and employment

As you get older, it’s not unusual to feel left behind by developments at work or to be faced with an uncertain employment situation. Your health may have affected the kind of work you have been able to do over the years, and you may have been in and out of employment.

You may want to get back into work again or look for a different kind of work. As you may have many years of good health ahead of you, there could be real benefits in finding work that suits you now. Apart from the financial rewards, working for as long as you can may be good for your physical health, mental health and social connections.

It’s worth thinking about the skills you have which employers may be interested in. You may have gained transferable skills in previous jobs, voluntary work, training courses or your personal life. For example, you have probably developed skills through managing a long-term health condition, such as budgeting, handling stress and dealing with people.

If there is a gap between your skills and what employers want, you could look for education, training or voluntary work to help fill the gap. Employers will respect the fact that you are trying to develop your skills.

As employers’ recruitment techniques have changed in recent years, you might need to update your approach to looking for work. It’s worth finding out about different ways to look for job opportunities, including using your personal contacts and networks. You should also check that the way you deal with application forms, CVs and interviews is giving you the best chance of finding the work you want.

Strengthen your support network

We all need people around us, to share both the good times and the bad times. As already mentioned, staying socially connected is good for your emotional wellbeing, mental health and cognitive function.

Thinking about the future, there may also be moments when you will need practical help from other people. You may need people who will look out for you or help you get things done. Ideally, there would be several people around you who might help you with different things, both small and large.

A supportive social network could be an important resource, helping you to enjoy the years ahead and to cope with any difficulties that you may face. This is another reason why it is worth investing in the relationships you have with family, friends and others.

By building good friendships and closer ties, there will naturally be people around you who care about you and will come to your aid should you need it. These can be mutually supportive relationships, where you are as likely to help the other person as they are to help you.

However, it can be harder to get support when other people don’t know you have HIV. If you need to keep important information away from people, it could be difficult for them to know what is going on and when you might need a helping hand. As a result, it may feel hard for other people to get close to you.

If you usually avoid telling people that you have HIV, you might find a support group of other people living with HIV helpful. They can be safe spaces where you can meet people who are in a similar situation to you. You might find that you want to stay in touch with some group members and meet up outside the meetings.


Volunteering works both ways – you’re helping other people or a cause that you care about, but you’ll probably get something out of it as well. Most volunteers find it a very rewarding experience and it can be a great way to meet other people with similar interests.

It could help you gain confidence, by giving you the chance to try something new and achieve something. You could learn new skills, gain experience that an employer may value, or discover a hidden talent.

Helping other people may also help you take your mind off your own problems. It could give you a feeling of making a contribution and being part of a community.

For example, many people volunteer with HIV organisations or support groups. Especially if you have lived with HIV for many years, you will have knowledge and experience that you can share with others. This could be a chance to give something back.

Put your affairs in order

This booklet is about living a long life with HIV. In the UK, very few people have their lives cut short by HIV anymore.

Nonetheless, everyone who is getting older needs to think about what they would want to happen if they were seriously unwell or after their death.

It’s easier to make decisions about these things while you are in good health than to leave it until the situation is already difficult. If you change your wishes later, you’ll still be able to update your plans.

It’s important to prepare for the possibility that one day, you might be too ill to make decisions about your own healthcare and your practical affairs. You can make plans for who you’d like to be involved and how you would like to be cared for in these circumstances.

You can tell your doctors who you consider to be your ‘next of kin’ – a person close to you, who you’d like to be consulted about your healthcare in an emergency. This may be important if your next of kin is your partner or a close friend, rather than a member of your family.

It’s worth talking to those you are close to about what’s important to you in relation to your healthcare. For example, you could tell them where you would like to be cared for towards the end of your life (for example, at home, in a hospice, or in a hospital). It’s also a good idea to write down your decisions and preferences so that everything is clear (and tell people where to find that document).

You can also set up a power of attorney, which is a legal arrangement that allows someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf. You can create separate power of attorneys for healthcare decisions and for financial decisions.

You may want to write an ‘advance decision’ (a living will) which describes your wishes about any treatment you don’t want to have, in case you’re too ill to speak for yourself.

Everyone should have a will, whatever their age. You can be sure that the things you own go to the people you choose. Having your wishes clearly set out will help avoid problems and arguments after your death.

It’ll also be helpful for those left behind if you organise important documents such as bank records, insurance policies and property deeds, and tell people where to find them.

You might also want to tell others about your wishes for a funeral, cremation or burial. Some people engage a funeral director and pay the expenses in advance.

Learn how to manage multiple healthcare providers

The healthcare system doesn’t always work smoothly for people with several health problems. It can be tiring to juggle several different doctors, appointments, medications and recommendations.

Here are five suggestions for dealing with this.

1. Learn about your health conditions. Ask lots of questions during your appointments, so that you are well informed about your treatment options and how you can take care of your health. Before the appointment, write down the points you want to discuss so you don’t miss anything important.

2. Take a proactive role in your healthcare. Tell your doctors what your needs and priorities are, so that they can take these into account. If your doctors aren’t sharing information with each other, see what you can do to make it happen. And when action has been promised, follow up to check that things have been done.

3. Disclose your HIV status to your GP. If your GP is aware of your HIV medication, they will be able to prescribe other medicines safely. They will be able to take HIV into account when screening for and managing other health conditions.

4. Keep a file for your medical information. It may help you keep on top of the information about your healthcare – your appointments, the medication you are taking, and so on. You can ask to be sent copies of letters that doctors write about your care to your GP or to other professionals.

5. Ask to have one healthcare professional co-ordinating your care across different services. This might be a community nurse or clinical nurse specialist at your HIV clinic, someone at your GP practice, or a doctor or nurse who specialises in the care of older people (geriatric medicine). The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that anyone having difficulties with multiple health providers can ask for this.

Find out more

A long life with HIV

Published September 2018

Last reviewed September 2018

Next review September 2021

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

Living with HIV as you get older

This booklet is part of a range of resources on health problems, co-morbidities and challenges that people living with HIV may face as they get older.

The full range is available on aidsmap and also includes factsheets, an online Side-effects checker tool, Side-effects information booklet and resources in other languages.

Visit our Living with HIV as you get older page >
This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.