How Prepared Is Your Child to Handle Diabetes Care Alone?
As part of the transition from pediatric to adult diabetes care, your child should have a high level of diabetes knowledge. Most likely, you have been taking care of things such as: keeping track of insulin doses, tracking blood glucose readings, ordering insulin and other supplies, and making doctor’s appointments. In transitioning to self-care, your child will need to be able to do all of these things alone.
Of course, if you throw all the responsibility at them at once, it will be overwhelming. This is why it’s recommended that you start early with talking to your child about diabetes management and making sure they are gradually taking on more responsibility.
By the time your child transitions to adult care and/or goes off to college or enters the workforce, he or she should be able to:
- Provide his or her own medical history
- Discuss the role of insulin in the body
- Adjust insulin levels for carb intake and blood glucose levels
- Discuss what the A1c level means
- Talk about goal blood glucose and A1c levels
- Track daily blood glucose levels
- Explain how exercise affects blood glucose levels
- Know when it is not safe to drive, and if they do have low blood glucose levels, how long to wait until they can drive
- Explain the effect alcohol has on the body
- Explain possible long-term complications of type 1 diabetes
- Explain his or her sick day management plan
- Order insulin, test strips, and ketone strips
- Make doctor’s appointments
- Identify his or her insurance plan and what is covered
- Keep track of insurance claims
This is not, we should stress, an exhaustive list, but it is a starting point for tracking how your child is doing in transitioning to self-care. Your pediatric endocrinologist may have a checklist he or she uses to track this diabetes knowledge in an effort to prepare your child for adult care.
Additionally, the more diabetes knowledge your child has, the better prepared he or she will be to be an empowered, engaged patient. Building up their knowledge, confidence, and responsibilities over several years will go far in smoothly transitioning to adult care.