Handling Health Care

A key aspect of being an adult is taking care of your health. As a child, your parents handled your health care, scheduling appointments with doctors and making important decisions. It made sense for them to take care of these issues because you weren't old enough to completely understand them.

However, as you become an adult, you have to deal with these issues. It’s still okay to ask your parents for advice and support, but you have to make sure you learn about your own health care needs and what you need to do to make sure that those needs are fulfilled.

General Health Needs

Think about these basic questions related to your health. These questions are not focused on your specific symptoms, but on the actions you need to take to make sure you stay healthy.

a) What activities do you need to do to keep yourself healthy?

b) Can you do these activities by yourself or do you need someone to help you?

c) Do you know how to direct others to help you?

To print this worksheet, click here.

Talk to Your Doctor

It's important that you have good communication with your doctor and other health care providers. That's because the two of you will be developing a relationship in which each of you will share ideas and try to find solutions that work well for you.

Sometimes, people think that doctors are always the experts and know more, but that's not true. You are the person who knows best about how you feel and that’s why you have the final say in any decisions involving your health. Of course, your doctor has specialized knowledge and your parents also know a lot about your health conditions. Listen to them and think about their ideas and suggestions.

Here are some examples of good ways to communicate with your doctor:

  • Always tell your doctor about how you feel physically. Tell your doctor about what things feel fine and what things are bothering you
  • Ask questions. You can ask if there are changes in your health that might come up as you get older, or if there are treatments that can help you with things that bother you
  • Talk to your doctor about issues related to your sexual health. You might have questions or concerns related to sex, birth control, or other related issues

Click here to learn more about establishing a good relationship with your doctor.

Participating in Your Health

Think about these questions.

a) Do you talk to your doctor during your visits?

b) Do you understand your needs? What are they?

c) Do you ask questions and agree to treatments?

d) Where do you go for more information besides your doctor?

e) Write down any extra thoughts or questions you may have.

To print this worksheet, click here.

Understanding Your Health

Now that we've talked about general issues, like talking to your doctor, it's important to consider the specific types of health issues you need to keep track of. In the past, your parents may have kept track of these, but now you should. Here are some of those issues. You don't need to memorize them, but you should have them written down somewhere:

  • Health issues or symptoms. Know when they started and how frequently you feel them
  • Questions or concerns about these issues or symptoms
  • Medications you take and equipment you use
  • Therapy and other medical exercises or treatments you do. Think about whether you think they are going well and if you would like to change them
  • Accommodations you need at the doctor's office
  • Your doctor's name and phone number
  • An emergency contact (could be a family member or close friend)

Health Care Coverage

Unfortunately, health care can be very expensive. One of the most difficult things about handling your health can be making sure that you have appropriate health care coverage that will pay for your health care needs. Make sure you are aware of your options. Benefits for Young People has a good introduction to the various types of health coverage available, including Medi-Cal, Working Disabled Program (WDP), and private health insurance.

Read more about taking care of your health in the Youth Transition Toolkit.