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All Grown Up—Make Sure
They’re Okay, and You Will Be Too

All Grown Up—Make Sure Theyߴre Okay, and You Will Be Too

How can you help young adults with type 1 diabetes start living on their own?

Preparing for when your young adult goes off to college or moves out on his or her own can put pressure on both of you. But there are things you both can do to make this change easier.

Make sure your young adult has mastered the basics:

  • Filling prescriptions and ordering supplies before they run out
  • Checking insulinInsulinA hormone made by the beta cells in the pancreas that helps sugar move from the blood into the cells. Insulin is also an injectable medicine that is used to treat diabetes by controlling the level of sugar in the blood. and taking medicine on his or her own
  • Having supplies on hand to manage low blood sugar
  • Paying for medicine and supplies and/or arranging for payment to be made through insurance
  • Adjusting the amount of insulin based on eating, activity, and blood sugarBlood sugarOr blood glucose. The main sugar (glucose) found in the blood, and the body’s main source of energy. patterns
  • Making appointments with his or her diabetes care teamDiabetes care teamYour diabetes care team may include: a primary care doctor, a diabetes and hormone doctor (endocrinologist), a registered nurse, a diabetes educator, a dietician, a heart doctor (cardiologist), a foot doctor (podiatrist), an eye doctor (ophthalmologist/optometrist), a kidney doctor (nephrologist), a dentist, a pharmacist, and a mental health professional.
  • Asking the diabetes care team questions and sharing any concerns about diabetes care
  • Telling the diabetes care team how he or she has been feeling

Whether your young adult is going to college or is moving into an apartment, it's a good idea for everyone with diabetes to have a diabetes kit that will keep supplies in one spot.

insulin medicines blue
injection blue

A diabetes kit should include:

  • a blood sugar monitor and strips
  • insulin
  • syringes
  • pump supplies or extra pens
  • sharps container
  • prescriptions for insulin and supplies
  • emergency sources of sugar your young adult likes to use to treat low blood sugar events

Help them prepare in advance

medical alert id

Ask the diabetes care team if it's a good idea to carry an emergency kit for hypoglycemia. It might be a good idea to train some friends on how to use it, too.

If they aren't wearing one already, young adults should think about wearing a medical alert ID. If they don't like the idea, remind them that if they ever pass out because of a low blood sugar event, wearing an ID could save their life.

At your young adult's last appointment with his or her childhood care team, have him or her get the previous team's business cards to share with the new team. This can help make the change in care smoother.

If your young adult is headed to college, encourage him or her to:

  • Have “the talk.” Talk to your teen about what they may want to share about their diabetes with roommates, RAs, friends, and teachers
  • Visit the student health center. Find out how to get help at night, on the weekend, or in an emergency, and where to get prescriptions
  • Go to the cafeteria or campus food sources. You can help them get nutrition information and stock their room with diabetes‑friendly foods
  • Prepare a sick-day kit for the dorm room. This kit should include guidelines from the care team on how to adjust insulin as well as ketoneKetonesOrganic compounds produced when the body breaks down fats and fatty acids to use as fuel. This is most likely to occur when the body does not have enough sugar or carbohydrates or the body cannot use sugar effectively. Because high levels of ketones are dangerous, a urine test is one way to check the level of ketones in your body. strips, a thermometer, and bland foods and drinks
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