If you have diabetes, a pediatric (childhood) endocrinologist is probably directing
your medical care. That doctor and the diabetes
health care team have been there to support you and your family.
Your parents have likely played a big part in your medical care, and that's great.
But after you turn 18, they may not be able to see your medical records or talk about
your health with your doctor — even if you want them to.
"Transition of care" means shifting your health care to an adult medical
practice. But who takes care of you is just one part of this change. It also means
learning how to take charge of
your own health and handle every aspect of your care — from filling out insurance
forms to understanding and making decisions about treatments.
Now is a good time to begin looking into moving from your pediatric specialist
to doctors who treat adults. Your diabetes
care team should be able to guide you, but here are some good things to know.
When Should Teens With Diabetes Transition to Adult Care?
It depends on the person, but most teens with diabetes should move to adult health
care when they're between 18 and 21. That's when many become independent from their
parents, go to college, or move away from home.
How Can I Prepare to Transition to Adult Care?
To help you with this transition:
Learn all you can about diabetes and its symptoms.
Know how to handle diabetes when you're sick
or need to make changes to the diabetes management plan.
Know the names of all your diabetes
medicines, their dosages, and when to take them. Learn about common side effects
and interactions with other medicines.
Be able to answer most questions about your health and
Know what to do in an emergency.
Know why it's important to follow the treatment plan.
You know you need to switch from a pediatric to an adult endocrinologist. But it's
also important to find an adult
primary care provider for your non-diabetes health care needs. This could be an internist,
family medicine specialist, or nurse practitioner. He or she should work with your
endocrinologist, as needed.