Is she checking glucose levels frequently enough? Is he eating right? Does she have enough supplies on hand? What will happen if he drinks alcohol at a party? Will she go low at night?
These are some of the common fears parents have when their child with type 1 diabetes moves away from home. What can you do as a parent? Let’s start by examining some of the common fears and then develop a plan to manage them.
- Low Blood Glucose. Perhaps the biggest fear for parents is that their child with type 1 diabetes will have a low glucose at night. This is particularly of concern if the child has a history of seizures, is a hard sleeper, or is living alone.
- Proper Nutrition.Eating nutritious meals is difficult for all of us, and is even more challenging for a young adult with a hectic schedule and competing priorities.
- Managing supplies. Chances are, you were the one who made sure your child was fully stocked with insulin, test strips, infusion sites, and other supplies. Now that your child is in charge of supplies, you may worry he might run short.
- Driving. Low glucose behind the wheel is another common worry, or you may be concerned that your child won’t have adequate supplies available for long drives.
- Alcohol. Alcohol consumption can cloud judgement and sometimes lead to unexpected lows. While there is always a concern about young adults making good choices when it comes to alcohol, it is magnified when diabetes is part of the equation.
- Sick Days. Illnesses, especially if symptoms include nausea and vomiting, can be challenging when paired with type 1 diabetes. If your child is not feeling well, they may not have the presence of mind to adequately monitor ketones and determine when they need additional help or possibly emergency care.
To Reduce Your Fears, Help Your Child Prepare
- Build a Support Team. Encourage your young adult to start building his own support system away from home in the form of friends, roommates, professors and employers. If your child is away at college, suggest they join the local chapters of Students with Diabetes or the College Diabetes Network.
- Establish Care with a Local Provider. Help your child identify and establish care with a local diabetes expert. This will ensure they can get the help they need, particularly in the unlikely event they are hospitalized.
- Prepare a Sick Day Kit. Make sure your child has all the necessary supplies to take care of herself when she is sick. Urine ketone test strips are a must, and can be bought over the counter at a local pharmacy without a prescription. Make sure your child knows the protocol for testing ketones and who to call for help if ketones are detected.
- Get connected.If your young adult is going off to college, become a CDN Parent to get access to information on how to support your college student. Join an online forum such as Children with Diabetes Family Support Networks, the Parents of the College Diabetes Network Facebook Group or TuDiabetes. You can even sign up to become a Parent Ambassador for the College Diabetes Network to provide support to a nearby college student away from home.
- Use Diabetes Technology.If your child with type 1 diabetes is a sound sleeper, consider a CGM with share technology that will alert you or a roommate during severe lows. Encourage your child to explore new automated insulin deliver systems, like the Medtronic 670G, that can suspend insulin deliver in advance of a predicated low glucose.
- Be Confident. Your adult child has likely demonstrated independence and competence in managing diabetes independently. Celebrate these accomplishments and be sure to tell him or her how proud you are.