As you become an adult, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will become your responsibility. Understanding health care is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Start early! Learn about your health care needs at an early age.
- Create a medical summary. Put all of the important information about your health care in one place, including plans for an emergency. Give any new health care providers a copy of the summary so they will know all of the important details about your medical history.
- Create a health care transition plan. This plan should include future goals, what services you will need and how these could be paid for. This plan should first be written when you are 14, but should be updated yearly.
- Focus on health care responsibility. Ask your parents and health care providers for insight on understanding and taking responsibility for your healthcare.
- Consider additional supports. With the help of your family, explore what types of supports you might need such as medical guardianship, home health aides and personal care attendants.
- Maintain wellness. Live a healthy lifestyle by implementing good nutrition and plenty of exercise. Avoid risky behaviors like smoking, alcohol use and unprotected sex.
- Know your health insurance options. Look into maintaining health insurance coverage. The options can depend on your age, health conditions, income and ability to work. Also, if your family has a specific health care provider, ensure you are covered.
- Find new providers. Pick a primary care doctor that meets your needs and works with adults. You can interview possible doctors with a parent.
- Include health in other areas of transition. Find out how your specific health care needs may impact your future and other areas of life such as independent living, work and relationships. Consider whether accommodations will be needed in the home, workplace, et cetera. Ask your primary care physician to provide documentation of your medical conditions and special health care needs for other programs or agencies as needed.
- Celebrate moving on. Remember that transition is a part of growing up, and you deserve the right to take on adult roles wherever possible. Taking responsibility for your health care is one of them, even if it requires help from a parent or service provider.
Dr. Judith Aronson-Ramos is a Board Certified Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrician. Her medical practice is devoted exclusively to the evaluation and treatment of pediatric patients (birth – 18 years) with challenges in learning, behavior, development and social-emotional functioning. She is located in Coconut Creek, Florida.
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