In this section
Independence is one
of the defining aspects of adulthood. Adults have to provide for
themselves, make their own appointments, pay bills and advocate for
themselves, as well as making lots of decisions for themselves
every day. A big part of adolescence is learning the skills that
will help you manage all these different aspects of your general
life as well as your health care. As a young person with a chronic
illness you will have more responsibilities than most people your
age. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as you will be in tune with
your body and more capable in certain areas. Hopefully independence
will be one of them!
One important area of independence is developing the skills and
confidence to talk to your doctor and your health care team on your
own. This helps you to understand and manage your condition and to
increasingly take more responsibility for self care. It is likely
that as an adult you will attend appointments on your own at times.
Being able to raise and discuss the issues that you need your
doctor's assistance with is very important as is being able to take
on board treatment plans and recommendations and put them into
action. You may like to start by seeing the doctor on your own for
part of the consultation and then take the responsibility of
updating your parents on any changes to your treatment plan.
Have a read through the
How to Talk to Your Doctor fact sheet for more information on
how to talk to your doctor and other members of your health care
team with confidence.
It is also worthwhile knowing your rights when it comes to your
health care. As a young person you do have different rights than a
young child particularly around consent and confidentiality. Check
Know your Rights Including Confidentiality fact sheet.
Gaining some independence from your
parent/carer can be a challenging task for you and for them. Your
parents/carers are always there for you and letting go may be
easier for some than others. They have been there for you from day
one and are used to being highly involved in your health care, so
sometimes it's difficult and can take time for parents to look at
their children as adults and to have the confidence to step back
and give them health care responsibilities. Keep this in mind as
you seek some independence in your health care. If you haven't
already, try to accept this as a challenge or a natural progression
of things. Initial steps could be attending part of your
appointments without your parent/carer, booking your own
appointments, as well as taking on more responsibility for other
smaller things in your day to day life.
Have a read through Negotiating Your
Independence for more information on how to begin the process
of working with your parents/carer's in gaining more
Becoming an adult is also about learning to be more responsible
for your own medications. Knowing the name of your medications, why
you need them, and how much you need to take is a great start!
Taking them without a reminder from a parent or guardian is the
next step! Also very important is knowing when and how to get a
prescription and how to fill it at the hospital or local
It is important that you know about your medical condition and
its effect on your growing, changing body. There may be some
specific questions that you would like to have answered about this.
It's important to understand what tests you need to have regularly,
why and what the latest results were. It is also important to
understand what the effects of drugs and alcohol can be on your
body, and how changes such as less sleep or travel might affect
things. Make sure you discuss this with your health care team as
they will be able to give you some helpful hints in regards to
this. However, in the end it all comes down to your choices.
Adolescence is about choices and understanding the risks associated
with some of those choices. The following fact sheet gives you some
more info on how to approach these decisions; Risk-taking &
It is also essential for you as an adolescent to have an
understanding of your body and sexual health. The Body Image
& Sexual Health fact sheet will help you with this.
Lastly, make sure you have developed some resilience and know
how to deal with bullying, as these two factors are important both
in adolescence and later in life. To find out more about resilience
Developing Resilience & Dealing with Bullying.
A good early step in preparing to move to an
adult health service is to apply for your own cards. It is
particularly important to have your own Medicare card when you have
a medical condition or disability. Medicare cards will be handy as
they help you claim many benefits in the health care system like
free hospitalisation in the public setting. It is also good to be
aware of the benefits that private health insurance provides so you
can decide whether it is a priority for you to have this extra
level of health cover.
It is also very important to have some form of
photo ID, especially if you are over 18 years of age. Proof of Age
cards, or a drivers license, are handy to have so that you can
prove to people that you are over 18. See the ID,
Health Cards and Other Practical Matters fact sheet for
Some useful links to explore are:
All public clinics and hospitals are covered by Medicare.
You will need private health insurance to access private
hospitals and services.
You do not have to have private insurance. It is your choice,
however, if you are thinking about getting Private Health
Insurance, have a look at what different insurance companies offer
and what best suits your needs and budget. Check with your parents
before you take out your own private health insurance as they may
have you covered by their private health insurance. Ask them if
this will be transferred to you as an adult.