Transitioning from pediatric to adult care
The transition to adult health care can be a challenging time for many patients, especially those with chronic medical conditions like diabetes. The stage in human development between ages 18 and 30 is defined as the period of emerging adulthood.
This is the time when most individuals are dealing with several life stressors, which can be overwhelming for someone with a chronic medical condition. It's important to recognize the challenges young adults may face during this time to best prepare for continued medical care.
During the first half of emerging adulthood, from ages 18 to 24 years, many patients feel overwhelmed and tend to reject parental control. This is when older teens and young adults tend to disengage from health care. Frequency of doctor visits tends to dwindle, school or work stresses take precedence, physical activity levels and dietary patterns change, and motivation to stay on top of health starts to lack.
Then, between ages 25 and 30 years, young adults have taken on more responsibilities in life. This is when they start to place more importance to their health care. However, many new psychosocial challenges can complicate their willingness to care for themselves. A lack of plan or goal can lead to feelings of anxiety. And pregnancy is another situation that can arise during this period of emerging adulthood to further complicate matters.
Other health risks, such as use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco products, can occur at any age; however, these seem to be most prevalent during these years of adulthood.
As your adolescents prepare to move from childhood and parental dependence into independent adulthood, becoming autonomous is best done in small, planned steps. It's helpful for most to start planning during high school, while still mainly under parents' care.
Young adults can plan to take charge of their health during these crucial years by:
• Understanding differences among insurance plans.
• Being aware of their own medical records.
• Keeping a calendar of doctor appointments.
• Preparing questions for their doctor for each visit.
• Discussing sex education and birth control with their doctor.
• Discussing use of drugs and alcohol.
• Making a list of medications and the reason taken.
• Learning how and where to fill their prescriptions.
• Maintaining a list of emergency telephone numbers, including their doctor's office and an emergency contact.
With proper preparation and guidance, your child can embrace their health well into adulthood.
• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Ascension Illinois. To check out more information, visit Ascension.org/Illinois.