Living with Juvenile Diabetes: Transitioning from Teen to Adult
Young adults with diabetes need to be able to manage their blood sugar levels without their parents. The goal is to give them the confidence they need. Patients, parents and doctors need to work together.
There are a lot of changes as teens become young adults. These changes make it even more important for patients and doctors to work together on a care plan. This diabetes care plan should be built to fit into the patient’s life.
Over the past few years, the number of teenagers with type 1 and 2 diabetes1 has grown. According to the American Diabetes Association about 215,000 people younger than 20 have diabetes2. The growing numbers means there needs to be education to support teenagers as they grow into adults. As a child grows older, diabetes care can take a backseat. Research shows teens may not visit the doctor as often as they should.
Going to college, moving away from home, getting a first job are all exciting steps. But these changes may also distract from their diabetes care when a young person’s parents aren’t around.
Parents should start talking to their teenagers early about their diabetes care. Young adults should be prepared to deal with common diabetes issues like running out of insulin, dealing with low glucose levels in the middle of the night or a pump that stops working.
There are a number of diabetes programs that can help. These programs give teenagers the confidence and tips they need to care for themselves, including:
- How to make the best food choices, including fast food, snacks and other foods
- How to use of glucose monitors and insulin to control blood sugar levels
- Managing blood sugar when in classes, at work or traveling
- Balancing blood sugar levels when participating in sports, activities and social outings
- Using new technology to care for their diabetes
- Understanding the impact of alcohol, fast food, smoking and other choices on diabetes management
The good news is there are a lot of resources to provide support for teenagers with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has information to support young adults with diabetes: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/teens/. They also offer live support Monday through Friday by calling 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383).