Managing Your Own Health Care

Teen with Health Care ProviderDr. Kitty O’Hare recently wrote a post about setting the stage for medical independence on the Children’s Hospital Boston’s blog “Thrive”. In the entry she writes about how she often sees 15 year olds coming into a health care provider’s office with their parent, and the teen is more or less clueless about what’s going on. The teen depends on the parent for everything – from setting up the appointment to answering the questions asked by the provider.

Dr. O’Hare makes a great point saying that this shouldn’t be happening, especially with teens ages 15 and older. In her entry she also lists great ways on how to get teens more involved with managing their own health. The tips are helpful, but I also think that parents should do more to make teens responsible for their own health care. Giving them the choice isn’t going to cut it. Let’s be real; if a 15 year old that hates everything about going to see their health care provider has the option to let their parent manage their care or do it themselves, the teen isn’t likely to take control of the situation. So yes, I think that parents should guide teens and help them learn how to manage their care, but they should also stop doing everything for them.

Dr. O’Hare often sees parents answering questions for teens. Maybe parents could help their teen manage their own care by not answering any of the questions and giving the teen the responsibility to do so; or better yet, not going in to the exam room at all (unless asked to). If a teen has to answer questions on his/her own, he or she will have to be more interactive and involved. At 15 (and sometimes even younger) many kids are allowed to have cell phones, go to the movies on their own, etc., so why shouldn’t they have the responsibility of being involved with their health care?

As for the teens out there, I really think it’s important to be aware and educated about your own health and how to manage your health care. It would be unfortunate if something bad happened and you needed medical intervention, but you didn’t know the basics about your health and your parents couldn’t be reached. Imagine if you couldn’t get the help you needed because you were unable to give a health care provider the information they needed.

Managing your own health isn’t hard and it’s beneficial. I’ve been managing my health care and the medical care of many of my relatives for a long time because I have to translate the medical information. Maybe it’s different for me, because to me it didn’t really feel like an option. Don’t get me wrong, my mother still sets up appointments for me if it’s convenient for both of us,  but for the most part, I know the important stuff about my health, her health, and even my grandparent’s health. So, if I can handle all of that, I’m sure you can too.