Caring for Young Adults Living at Home
Helping to manage the type 1 diabetes of a young adult living away from home can be challenging. However, if and when your young adult moves back home for financial, health, or other reasons, this too can require an adjustment. As you may know, many young adults in their 20s and even 30s have been moving back into their parents’ homes in record numbers—giving rise to the term, “boomerang kids.” There are several reasons for this. Even though the most recent recession has technically passed, it has deeply impacted the financial health of the current young-adult generation. High unemployment, student loan debt, and rising housing costs have made the move back home financially attractive, or even necessary, for many people in this age group.
What does this have to do with type 1 diabetes? Parents with children who are now “twenty-something” or “thirty-something” with type 1 diabetes know that getting them out on their own and taking care of themselves can be a challenge. But if they come back home after living on their own, it can make for a confusing time in terms of diabetes care roles and responsibilities.
- Stay in control of their own diabetes care. It may be your house, but it’s still their diabetes. They’ve worked hard to develop their own adult diabetes care team and self-management skills. Make sure they don’t go backward! Urge them to maintain their care routine and their confidence in their diabetes self-management abilities, no matter what else happens in their life
- Make an effort to keep (or start) an adult relationship with them. Tell them, for everyone’s sake, that they cannot continue the role of “eternal teenager”
- Make the most of their time back home. This is not the time for them to wallow on the couch! They need to regroup, not sulk. They need to look for a job if they are unemployed. If they are working but aren’t making enough to be financially independent, they need to consider how to increase that income. Help them figure out if they may need more training or education to move forward. They may find that if they can show progress, or at least make an honest effort, it can help them keep up their self-esteem and make everyone more understanding of their situation
- Respect house rules. This may have been his or her home as a teenager, but now as an adult (who may or may not be paying rent) their status is that of long-term guest. So ask that they do their own laundry, clean up after themselves, and do things to be helpful. Let them know that it would be appreciated if they offer to do the grocery shopping, run errands, and cook dinner once in a while. Explain that little things can go a long way
- Have an exit plan. Explain that the situation is much more hopeful if there is a timetable for how and when they plan to leave. It’s also good to urge your adult child to have some kind of direction
- Be responsible for their own meals, even if it means that they eat something different from the rest of the family or eat before or after them. It’s not your responsibility to watch what they eat anymore. The basics of healthy eating are the same for people with or without diabetes, so if they want to take charge of making healthy, diabetes-friendly meals for the whole family, it will be to everyone’s benefit!
Remind them that as a young adult with type 1 diabetes, moving back home for a while doesn’t have to mean going backward in life. However, urge them to keep their forward momentum going. Let them return to your home as a springboard, not a crash pad. Good luck!