Diabetes Care for Emerging Adults

Transitioning from pediatric to adult diabetes care is a big adjustment for teens and parents alike. Young adults are going through many big changes in their lives at the time when they leave their pediatrician, and social, emotional, and financial demands often end up taking priority over their health. As a result, diabetic young adults have an increased risk for short-term complications like hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and diabetic ketoacidosis.

It is essential to start preparing your teen for adult diabetes care as early as possible so that when they do take that leap, they feel informed and empowered. And by being proactive, you’ll rest easy, too

Here are 6 things you can do to prepare for the transition to diabetes care for emerging adults:

  • Start having conversations with your teen about diabetes care beyond childhood, and foster independent self-care habits as early as possible.

Keep a calendar someplace in your home where everyone can see, and encourage your teen to be the one to mark appointments or when it’s time to restock medications. Let them call to schedule their own appointments so they become accustomed to doing these small but important tasks themselves.

  • At your teen’s next appointment, ask your pediatric provider for resources and recommendations for transitioning into adult diabetes care.

Encourage your teen to come up with questions of their own, and let them take the lead on the conversation. They may also want to speak privately with the doctor about lifestyle habits affecting their health. Some things your pediatrician should give you before switching providers include:

  • Active problems and medications list
  • Diabetes self-care evaluation
  • Summary of past glycemic control and any known health problems
  • Referrals made during pediatric care
  • Recommendation for a primary care provider with expertise in diabetes management

Make sure both you and your teen have copies of this information and are clear on what the next steps should be.

  • Get clear on insurance coverage and payment.

Plan a time to talk with your child about their insurance coverage. Will they stay on your insurance policy? For how long? (Until they’re 26?) Is any portion paid out of pocket? Are there co-pays? Do you have prescription insurance? Explain the options and give them copies of insurance cards.

  • Choose a provider and schedule the first appointment 3-4 months after the final pediatric visit.

This way, you’ll be sure there are no gaps in care. Your teen should be the one to make the call and provide insurance information over the phone. Write that date down on your calendar!

  • Check out other resources.

The College Diabetes Network helps provide peer-based programs which connect and empower students and young adults to thrive with diabetes.

  • Advise your teen to come up with a game plan for balancing their health with other life demands.

Whether they move away from home, go to college, or start a new job, they’ll have a lot of things competing for their attention. If they have a game plan for balancing their health with other demands, they’ll be more likely to succeed. (Luckily, you’ve already instilled some good habits in them.)

Young adulthood is an exciting time in your child’s life. Diabetes care for emerging adults is a big responsibility to take on, but by letting teens figure out problems on their own, they’ll gain the independence they need to navigate long-term medical care. Knowing they have your support and guidance along the way if they need it will make them feel at ease.

If you have specific questions about your teen’s diabetes care, contact your doctor at Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups today for more information.

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