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Preparing for Your Child's Transition to Adult Care


Young adults face numerous life changes and challenges, but one that is rarely talked about is the transition from pediatric to adult care. This change can be confusing for patients, their parents and families – and sadly it is often overlooked. In some cases, patients face a sudden transition without any plan in place to ensure they continue to receive the care they need. In others, young adults can struggle to find an adult Primary Care Provider who is familiar with their needs and with whom they are comfortable.

Planning for this transition should be a collaborative process that helps young adults establish their health care priorities, supports their growing independence, and addresses challenges such as chronic conditions, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and even the emotional difficulty parents may feel when passing medical decision-making duties on to their child. Treating the process with sensitivity and compassion -- and planning for this transition early -- can ensure important details don’t slip through the cracks and that young adults receive the information, assistance and care they need in a timely manner.

Transition Tips for Parents

Passing responsibility for their health care on to your child can be difficult emotionally and create anxiety – after all, you’re used to taking care of them and ensuring they receive the medical care they need, when they need it. That’s why it’s essential for you to help lay a foundation that will make this transition a success.

Beginning this process early can help ensure that you and your child are well-prepared for this transition – and you both have some homework to do make the process a success. You can help your child by:

  • Asking your pediatrician when to begin making the transition to an adult PCP.
  • Helping your child select a clinic or office location they can visit on their own, or while away at school, if necessary.
  • Checking your health insurance policy, so your child understands where and how they can get medical care that will be covered by that policy, especially if they will be leaving home.

Young adults preparing to transition to adult care should know the answers to several questions concerning their health care. You can work with your child’s primary care provider to encourage them to learn this important information, including:

  • Their medical condition(s) by name
  • Their doctor’s name and how to contact them for questions or to schedule an appointment
  • Who to contact in case of a medical emergency
  • Any dietary or medical restrictions
  • Their current medications
  • Any potentially negative interactions with their medications
  • How to fill their prescriptions
  • What to do if they have a negative reaction to medication
  • How to identify a fever by body temperature
  • A general understanding of their insurance policy
  • Your family’s medical history

Remember, this transition can be a difficult and anxious time for both you and your child, so talking about the concerns you both have and the challenges you face can help reduce anxiety and ensure that your child knows and understands how important continuing routine medical care is to their health and wellness. Start talking early and often, and both you and your child will be better prepared for their transition from pediatric to adult care.