Teens and Young Adults

7. Health Management and Self-advocacy

Information and Resources:

Through your teen years and into your twenties, it is important for you to start taking more responsibility for your health. Many times this involves learning certain skills such as calling a doctor’s office for an appointment or asking questions during your medical visit. It is important to learn how to be a health self-advocate.

This video talks about what it means to advocate for your health. Make sure you click on the side arrow(s) to go through all the parts of the lesson:

Sometimes families have a hard time having you be in charge of your own health. They may be afraid of you making mistakes. You should talk to your family about why it is important to you to be more in charge of your own health. You should also practice doing health activities and tasks with them so that they can see what you are able to do.  Some tasks need to be done with a support person. For example, if someone is taking you to the doctor’s office, you may need to know his or her schedule.

Here is a checklist to help you know whether you can do some of these things on your own or if you need someone to help you:

If you have a tablet like an iPad or a smart phone, there are applications (apps) that can assist you with health tasks such as taking medications. If needed, you can get someone to show you how to find these apps.

  • MyMedSchedule App: Keeps track of medications and lab results; provides reminders to take medications; can print schedules; available for Apple and Android devices.
  • MedCoach Medication Reminder App: Helps you remember to take medications and pills at the right time and day; can connect to pharmacy to refill prescriptions; for Apple devices only.
  • Med Helper Pill Reminder App: Keeps track of your prescriptions; alarms remind you when medication needs to be taken, when doctor appointments are scheduled and when meds are running low or are about to expire; for Android devices only.

If giving yourself medication is a part of the independence that you want, here are some tips that may help:

To learn about the many ways you can take more responsibility for your health go to:

Tips on Managing Your Own Health

  • Self-advocacy means speaking up for yourself with doctors and other health professionals.
  • A good circle of support—family and friends—can help you make good medical decisions.
  • Taking care of your health means keeping track of appointments, taking your medications, and learning what to bring to the doctor’s office.
  • If you can, learn how to travel to your medical appointments. Family, friends, and support staff can help you learn how to do that.
  • Whenever possible, choose doctors and other health professionals who listen to you and make you feel comfortable.
  • Practice how to talk with your doctor and ask questions. You should understand what to do to get and stay healthy before you leave the office like how to take a new medicine or care for an injury at home.
  • Eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep are important ways you can take charge of your own health.
  • Preventing illness before it starts is the best way to stay healthy.

Author: Mitchell Levitz (Research to Practice in Self-Determination Series)

Tips for Taking Charge of Your Oral Health

Here are some tips for becoming more responsible for your own oral health – things you can do to have healthier teeth and gums, and to help your dentist and hygienist take better care of you:

  • Learn how to brush, floss and rinse properly. Ask your dental hygienist to teach you how to take care of your mouth.
  • Get an adapted toothbrush that fits your hand comfortably and lets you brush correctly.
  • Follow the same routine every morning and evening – brush and floss using the proper techniques. Don’t rush. If you need help, ask your support staff or family to help you brush and floss. Make sure they get the training they need to help you do it right.
  • Tell your dentist about other medical conditions you have, the medicines you take, and how you are feeling at the time of your visit. Be knowledgeable about your medical history. Make sure the dentist has your medical information.
  • Ask your dentist and dental hygienist to explain to you, in a way you understand, what they are planning to do at each visit. Ask questions until you understand what’s going to happen.
  • Tell the dentist or hygienist if you are nervous. They can help you relax.
  • Tell the dentist or hygienist if you have pain. They do not want you to feel pain during a procedure and can usually prevent it.
  • Eat a balanced diet, go easy on sugary foods and drinks, and get some daily exercise.
  • Speak with your dentist if you are not happy with the way your mouth looks or feels.

Authors: Patricia Seagriff-Curtin, DDS, and Allen A. Schwartz, Ph.D. (Research to Practice in Self-Determination Series)

This shows you how to brush and floss your teeth.

Emotional well-being or feeling good about yourself is also important. You can learn more about this and also set some goals for yourself using this guide:

Sometimes, because of a physical disability, you need other people to help you do certain activities or tasks. You may need help with dressing, feeding, bathroom, exercising and more. You may feel that you want to be in charge of these personal care supports.  Consumer-Directed Personal Care is a way for you to receive this help but be in charge. These are some tips:

To Find This Topic For Families CLICK HERE