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In spite of there being national recognition that young adults with diabetes need more support, this is not an easy problem to solve. This age group is not always “into” their diabetes and often does not appreciate their current good health. Many believe they will be able to deal with diabetes problems if and when such problems occur.
Transition programs are now being created, and there is a call for research in this age group to see what works best. Some programs are striving to introduce young adults to adult programs that can serve as a base for care as long as they stay in the area. Tragically, many young adults stop seeking care due to finances, insurance coverage issues, transportation, other priorities, and a lack of commitment to caring for their diabetes.
It is also true that most adult care providers take far less time for patient appointments than pediatric providers, so providers may not fully understand a patient’s barriers to seeking care, and young adults may miss the nurturing environment, services, and attention to detail often seen in the pediatric setting. Getting comprehensive diabetes care is further complicated if a young person must make separate appointments — possibly in different locations — to see other members of the diabetes team such as dietitians and educators.
This is why it is critical that parents advocate for their young adults, explore possibilities for future care early, and devise a plan of care with their young adults’ input. Although many medical settings are now exploring ways of addressing these needs, it will be up to your young adult to follow through. Advocate for better programs, and insist that your student or young adult make and keep necessary appointments for his diabetes care.