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Health Information For Parents
You’ve been responsible for most — if not all — of the decisions about your child’s health care. But if you have teens or preteens, now’s the time to start including them in health care decisions and let them take a more active role in managing their own care.
Adulthood is just around the corner. So now’s the time to help teens take more responsibility for managing their own lives — and their health care is part of that.
This can be as simple as having them call in a prescription and pick it up or as complex as letting them choose a new care provider. This helps teens learn about planning in advance, making choices, and being accountable for themselves. These are skills they’ll need in adulthood.
As the parent of any preteen or teen knows, giving kids new responsibilities doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll follow through. It’s still up to you to encourage, remind, reinforce, and follow up on the responsibilities you give your child.
As kids get older, it’s especially important for those with
conditions, like asthma or diabetes, to learn all they can about their illnesses and be self-reliant when it comes to medical care.
Kids with special needs and developmental disabilities can also learn to manage some (or many) aspects of their care. It often helps to get the green light first from a doctor, social worker, or other medical professional on how and when to begin moving your child into more independent living.
At around age 12:
At around age 14, in addition to the previous list, teens should:
(for example, does diabetes or heart disease run in the family? Did someone die of cancer?).
At around age 17, in addition to the previous lists, teens should:
Kids with special needs or chronic conditions may need extra support to move into adult-based health care. If your child has special health needs, consider contacting the local chapter of your child’s diagnosis-specific group (for example, the National Association for Down Syndrome) to learn how other parents helped their kids become more independent in adulthood.
Families who’ve already gone through this transition can offer a wealth of information, such as which doctors specialize in treating adults with special needs, what special services are available, and what programs to look into or avoid.
Another resource that can help are family advocacy groups. Many dedicate themselves to helping families of kids with special health care needs. For example, the nationwide Family Voices organization has local chapters that can help families make informed decisions about health care for kids with special needs.
Now is also a good time to talk to a social worker in your area (who may be affiliated with your local hospital) to find out what federal or state-run programs your child might be eligible for in adulthood. Besides health-related services, some of these offerings might include support for finding employment, housing, and transportation.
In some cases, you might be able to enroll your child (or at least get on the waiting list) in these programs now. Doing so now might seem early, but can pay off later, when the need for services is more immediate.
Whenever possible, involve your kids in making health care decisions. Though it might take some extra effort and a bit of patience on your part at first, your kids can become more independent when managing their own health care.
With you there to provide support and guidance along the way, your kids can take that first big leap into adulthood while still having you as a safety net.
Help your teen or young adult make the transition from pediatric health care to adult health care. Get tips on finding a new doctor and getting health insurance.
When kids know they’re “going to the doctor,” many become worried about the visit. Here’s how to help them.
Because EHRs improve how well your doctors talk to each other and coordinate your treatment, they can enhance your medical care. Get the facts on electronic health records.
Taking charge of your own health care is a big step, and it can be a little overwhelming. Here’s a quick crash course on insurance for teens.
Health insurance has a language all its own. This article for teens explains what some key terms mean.
When you go to the doctor for a checkup, it’s because your parents and your doctor want to see that you’re growing just the way you should. Read all about what happens at the doctor’s office.
You deserve medical care from someone who helps you feel comfortable and understood. Get tips on finding the best doctor for you.
Your best resource for health information and advice is your doctor – the person who knows you, your medical history, and accurate medical information to answer your questions.
Each time you hop up on a doctor’s exam table, somebody makes a note in your medical records. There may come a time when you need your medical information, so find out how to get it and how it’s protected.
Figuring out health care is part of becoming an independent adult. Here are tips for teens on what that involves, and how to choose your own doctor.
Many health institutions digitally store their patients’ health information. Learn about electronic health records (EHRs) and how they can improve health care.
Finding coverage for your kids may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Many kids are eligible for government or community programs, even if their parents work. Learn what resources are available to your family.
Taking responsibility for your own health care means understanding things like prescriptions. Read our tips for teens on filling a prescription.
Most teens with Crohn’s disease should transition to an adult health care provider when they’re between 18 and 21 years old. Here’s how parents can help them do that.
Most teens with diabetes should transition to an adult health care provider when they’re between 18 and 21 years old. Here’s how parents can help them do that.
Most teens with IBD should transition to an adult health care provider when they’re between 18 and 21 years old. Here’s how parents can help them do that.
Most teens with ulcerative colitis should transition to an adult health care provider when they’re between 18 and 21 years old. Here’s how parents can help them do that.
As your child moves toward adulthood, learn the tools you need to make the transition as smooth as possible. This 6-step checklist can help.
These 10 steps can help take the anxiety and worry out of your child’s financial future and make sure that your child will be taken care of even after you’re gone.
If your teen has cerebral palsy, there’s a lot to know. This checklist makes it easy to determine what programs and services might be needed as your teen nears adulthood.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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