OKLAHOMA CITY – A child diagnosed with diabetes almost never manages the disease alone. His diabetes management is a team effort between parents, doctors, school nurses, and others. But as he enters his teen and young adult years, his more independent lifestyle poses new challenges. He often spends less time with the support system he had previously. He may move away from home, attend college, join the workforce, and experience gaps in health insurance coverage.
This newfound autonomy carries risks. Reports indicate an increased risk among diabetic young adults for death or injury due to acute events like diabetic ketoacidosis, accidents, and even violence. Young adults with chronic diseases must develop the skills to manage their health without the constant help they previously had.
Harold Hamm Diabetes Center’s Wavelengths program is designed to aid the transition from pediatric care to adult diabetes management. A major grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma (BCBSOK) stands to impact more than 150 children and families affected by diabetes.
Wavelengths provides diabetes care for young adults centered on education and coping skills empowering participants to assume autonomous care. In addition, the program conducts clinical research to address the unique challenges and needs young people and their families face when dealing with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
A grant from BCBSOK’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative enables the educational component of Wavelengths. HHDC clinicians coach participants in diabetes knowledge and management skills as well as psychological coping skills and strategies. The curriculum is designed to address problems specific to young adults, including risky behaviors associated with poor or potentially dangerous outcomes in those with diabetes.
The grant has made possible other programs also serving young adults. An expert speaker series hosts college representatives, local law-enforcement officers, and behavioral health professionals. Participants can develop leadership skills by volunteering at Camp Blue Hawk, HHDC’s residential summer camp for kids 10-15 with diabetes. A support group for young adults called Wavelengths Connections meets quarterly.
Harold Hamm Diabetes Center is grateful, on behalf of our patients, to BCBSOK for its commitment to improving the lives of young adults with diabetes.
PHOTO: Young adults participate in a 2016 Wavelengths family forum made possible by BCBSOK.