5 Tips for Families Living with T1D Teens
Adolescence represents a stage of multiple physical, behavioral and emotional changes, and living with Type 1 diabetes represents a need to make multiple adjustments in treatment.
1 – Teamwork
The main character of this film is the one who lives with T1D. Adolescence is a stage when independence is achieved. Establish the role of each person involved. Teenagers will learn to make decisions but they need the support of their loved ones. Parents: do not smother your children, remember that they are much more than just a person with diabetes. Say good morning first, before asking, “How are your BGs?”
2 – Communication
Keep a communication channel open at all times. Beyond how complex it is to live with T1D, it is vital that young people openly express what they feel, and that their family members listen to them and vice versa. We should see Type 1 diabetes as a great challenge but not as a daily threat. Help each other and, as far as possible, support yourselves with technological tools.
3 – “Nothing is forbidden”
Remember, people living with diabetes can do everything any other person can, including any physical activity, and they can eat foods that we could think of as “forbidden” like pizza or cake. Even alcohol consumption is a topic that we must talk about openly with teenagers because it involves the risk of a subsequent hypoglycaemia. The important thing is to be aware of how these circumstances modify blood glucose levels and how to act accordingly.
4 – “Driving lessons”
To obtain a driver’s license, someday they will have to take a course to drive a car, they will have to learn the traffic regulations. First they will have to drive accompanied by an adult (their parents), then they will start to do it alone. It’s the same process with Type 1 diabetes.
5 – Bonding with your healthcare team
Doctors, educators in diabetes and nutritionists can integrate a team to help you make better decisions. Our job is to recognize the positive things that are being done, to know all the treatment options and technology so each person with their family can decide what is best for them at this stage. It is important to generate a communication channel with teens. Our advantage as endocrinologists is that we see people living with Type 1 diabetes daily in our office and we learn from each patient. We can pass on those experiences to the rest of our patients.