Young adults face numerous life changes and challenges as they prepare for adulthood (or “adulting” as they’d say). Learning how to cook and clean, do the laundry, get an oil change or run an errand at the store, adolescents pick up a significant amount of skills at this age, but one bit of education that is rarely talked about is their health care.
This transition from parent-supervised pediatric care to patient-focused adult health care marks the first time a young adult patient has the ability to make medical decisions on their own. Plus, in some cases, patients face a sudden transition without any plan in place to ensure they continue to receive the care they need. In others, young adults can struggle to find an adult Primary Care Provider (PCP) who is familiar with their needs and with whom they are comfortable.
For parents, this may feel like a difficult or emotional milestone and should be addressed. Either way, the process should be a collaborative one that helps young adults establish their health care priorities, support their growing independence and address challenges such as chronic conditions and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Transition Tips for Parents
Passing responsibility for health care on to your child marks an important time to lay the foundation for their health care into adulthood. According to studies published in the journal Pediatrics, “Young adults are increasingly recognized as a vulnerable population not only in terms of high rates of behavioral health risks but also susceptibility to emerging or worsening chronic health conditions and traditionally low use of health care.”
Beginning this process early can help ensure that you and your child are well-prepared. You can help your child by:
- Asking your pediatrician when to begin making the transition to an adult PCP.
- Help your child select a clinic or office location they can visit on their own, or while away at school, if necessary.
- Check your health insurance policy, so your child understands where and how they can get medical care that will be covered by that policy, especially if they will be leaving home.
You can work with your child’s PCP to encourage your child to learn their personal medical information, including:
- Their medical condition(s) by name
- Their doctor’s name and how to contact them for questions or to schedule an appointment
- Who to contact in case of a medical emergency
- Any dietary or medical restrictions
- Their current medications
- Any potentially negative interactions with their medications
- How to fill their prescriptions
- What to do if they have a negative reaction to medication
- How to identify a fever by body temperature
- A general understanding of their insurance policy
- Your family’s medical history
These conversations help ensure that your child knows and understands how important it is to continue routine medical care. Start talking early and often, and both you and your child will be better prepared for “adulting.”