Many young adults with type 1 diabetes don’t feel prepared for the transition from pediatric to adult diabetes clinic. Some young adults are surprised by the different “feeling” between pediatric and adult clinic. After so many years with the same doctor, adult clinic may feel less personal, more serious, or have an increased emphasis on diabetes complications. While pediatric clinics are designed to be educational and family oriented, adult clinics can feel much more “medical.”
Another challenge is that the transition from pediatric to adult diabetes clinic often takes place when young adults have moved away from home for the first time, and are feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable. In addition, the responsibility for scheduling appointments, dealing with the insurance company, and possibly paying for care now falls to you.
While you are embracing new freedom and experiences in other aspects of your life, your diabetes management (and all it requires) can feel like a burden, particularly if you’ve lost the structure and support you had when living at home.
What to do? The good news is that with the right preparation, the process can be smooth(er).
Don’t Make Too Many Changes at Once
Try to stay with your pediatric diabetes team until you are ready for the transition. Take this time to learn about your insurance policy, how and where to get prescriptions, and how to make appointments. The National Diabetes Education Program has a checklist you can use to guide your transition from pediatric to adult care.
Even though you are an adult, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. Reach out to your pediatric diabetes care team for advice. If you’ve already transitioned to adult diabetes clinic, but don’t feel comfortable with your new doctor, find another one that’s a better fit for you. Ask your pediatric diabetes doctor for a referral.
Lean on parents and friends who already know about your type 1 diabetes. Meanwhile, work on building a network of friends who have type 1 and can empathize with what you are going through. If you are feeling alone, reach out to campus groups like the College Diabetes Network or Students with Diabetes. If you are working, reach out to the local chapter of JDRF or ADA, who often have socials and other events for young adults.
Online Resources, Technology, and other Sources of Support
If you are worried about overnight lows, talk with your doctor about using a CGM with share technology so that your parents, a friend, or a partner can receive alarms if you go low at night. Or, talk to your doctor about using one of the newer insulin pumps that can suspend insulin deliver if you are low at night and fall below a specific target.
Finally, if you are feeling overwhelmed or burned out, talk to your doctor about a referral for counseling. Once in a while, we all need a little additional help.