As a health care community, leaders in the field of type 1 diabetes have long been concerned about the gap in diabetes care that often occurs as teens move from pediatric to adult care. This phase of development, often referred to as “emerging adulthood” (between the ages of 18 and 30), is an exciting time in life when individuals establish their independence and personal identity and make important educational and vocational choices*. For a young person with diabetes, it is understandable that it also poses greater challenges with recent publications citing an increased risk for poorer diabetes control, severe hypoglycemic episodes, and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Both the parent and the young adult with diabetes are going to have many issues to resolve before leaving home and assuming complete diabetes self-care:
- How do we handle insurance issues for the first time? How much will “the system,” now that I am 18, allow my parents to help? Will my child be able to get supplies? Have all the supplies they need? Will my child think ahead and let me know they need things (or help) before the situation becomes critical?
- I am used to my pediatrician who works closely with my parents and me, the adult doctor only wants to talk to me, and they don’t seem to care as much about whether I follow through or not.
- How do I find a physician for my child who focuses on taking care of young adults with type 1 diabetes; it seems like lots of “adult” endocrinologists take care of type 2 and don’t really “get” the issues my child faces with type 1 diabetes.
- How much do I want my parents involved?
- As a parent, how do we make a “game plan” for letting go and handing over responsibility while still staying supportive and not “hovering”?
- The colleges have made it clear that they interact with the student, not the parent; this is frightening to me as a parent. How do I handle my fear and provide my child with adequate support and help them become the independent person they want to be?
- How do I handle food, alcohol, relationships, new friends, difficult course loads, a more active social life and still keep diabetes under control and not the “center of my universe”? As a parent, I worry these distractions will cause my child to have “amnesia” regarding their diabetes!!
- As a parent, I feel that I was the one who learned the “science” behind the diabetes. My child is very intelligent and handles the diabetes well, but do they really understand enough to make good decisions on their own? Would my child benefit from a structured course geared toward learning at a more adult level so that they can maneuver through their own diabetes questions with a better knowledge base?
The answer to that last question is probably "yes." That's why the team of expert diabetes educators at the Diabetes Research Institute offer a course specifically designed for emerging adults (and their parents), called A Survival Guide to College and Beyond. It's part of the Mastering Your Diabetes classes, which features a high-energy, interactive teaching approach that puts you at the center of your diabetes management.
There are only a few spots left! Download the registration form for the Mastering Your Diabetes: A Survival Guide to College and Beyond.
SOURCE: Article provided by the Diabetes Research Institute's Education Team: Della Matheson, RN, CDE; Lory Gonzalez, ARNP, CDE; Amy Kimberlain, RD, LD/N
*Levinson DJ, Darrow CN, Klein EB, Levinson MH, McKee B. The season’s of man’s life. New York: Knopf; 1978.