Setting Expectations with Teens

Being a teen is…complicated. There are a lot of emotions at play, and they may want to rebel to gain independence. Being independent is an important part of growing up, and it is even more important to support teens with epilepsy in learning how to live an independent life. Make sure your teen knows their routine and how to manage their epilepsy on their own.

You can support your teen's move into adult care by helping them with a few things.

  • Explain to them that becoming an adult means they will need to update/change their healthcare team
  • Help them understand that epilepsy care will become their responsibility as adults, not their parents’ or doctors’ responsibility
  • Encourage them to learn about epilepsy so they can make the right lifestyle choices
  • Try to explain why they need to manage their seizures and daily lives safely
  • Help them prepare for discussions with their doctor about finding medications and routines that work for them
  • Encourage them to live their life fully while learning to look after themselves, and respect the impact epilepsy can have on their lifestyle

Teens are known to rebel

Having an open talk with your teen about the risks of excessive alcohol consumption, lack of sleep, and stress mixed with their epilepsy is important.

Teen Care  Adult Care

Taking over the responsibility of epilepsy care can be scary for teens. This is why the move from pediatric care to adult care is so important.

The number one goal of this move is to help teens take on more of their own self-management. Teens can help by:
  • Having a clear understanding of their seizures and medical history, including the tests they’ve had done
  • Knowing all about the medications they take and side effects that come with them
  • Talking to someone (doctor, therapist, etc.) about any mental or emotional problems
    • Problems like depression, feeling isolated, and thinking about suicide can be big topics for people with epilepsy
  • Figuring out plans for medical coverage/insurance once they are off their parents’ insurance plans
  • Finding their own doctor (for adult care) and transferring over medical records

It can also be really helpful for teens to update their Seizure Action Plan and know who to call if seizures get worse.

Turning 18 and Living on Their Own

Teens legally become adults when they turn 18. They now will have to give permission for their doctor to be able to speak to their parents about their medical history. If a teen is getting a new doctor, it’s a good idea to move medical information over to their new care team as early as possible. They may even be moving to college, and could be a long way from home, which means they may need to build a local care team.

Teens may also explore living on their own. It is a good idea for them to think of a plan ahead of time so they are prepared to care for themselves. They should try to:
  • Make responsible and healthy choices to keep their epilepsy under control
  • Keep up with a regular sleep schedule
  • Not feel pressured to consume alcohol or drugs if their friends do, helping to reduce the chance of a seizure

The transition is always a little hard. Having your teen be as prepared as possible to manage their own care is key to getting through this challenging time.