Tips for Caring Adults
Parents can take several steps when it comes to ensuring preventive care for their adolescent. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Bright Futures initiative has one-page fact sheets for parents and families on a wide range of health topics and issues. Additionally, Healthfinder.gov recommends four strategies for parents of adolescents:1
- Help adolescents learn their health history. It is important to have an adolescent’s documented medical history, as health care providers use that information to personalize preventive care. The U.S. Surgeon General’s website offers My Family Health History, an accessible, private, and internet-based way to record your family’s health history. Also, if you or your health care provider does not have your teen’s immunization records, visit the Vaccines section of the OAH website for tips on how to obtain them. The website also gives information on how parents can help adolescents stay up to date on vaccines.
- Make a list of questions before the visit. A preventive visit is the perfect time to ask health care providers about an adolescent’s medical conditions (e.g., allergies) or changes in behavior or mood (e.g., a sudden lack of interest in favorite activities). Parents also may want to ask the provider whether their adolescent is getting enough physical activity and sleep, whether they are at a healthy weight, what immunizations they require, and how to talk to their teen about sex and healthy relationships. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has developed a series of tools for adolescent patients and their parents to use along with their health care provider, including pre-visit questionnaires to help identify areas of concern and additional questions.
- Encourage teens to make the most of an appointment. Guiding teens to be more involved in their health care can help them begin to take charge of their health. Adolescents can learn how to fill out medical forms, find the member and plan numbers on an insurance card, read the patient privacy notice, and prepare their own list of questions. To help them prepare their questions, teens can fill out the AAP’s Pre-visit Questionnaires for adolescents 11-14 years old, 15-17 years old, and 18-21 years old. The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine’s THRIVE app provides tools for parents to help promote health literacy with their teens. The app contains an extensive library of health and wellness information and provides parents with helpful conversation starters on sensitive topics.
- Know what to expect. There are two parts to most preventive visits: a discussion with adolescents and parents as well as a physical exam. During the physical exam, health care providers generally will check an adolescent’s height and weight, vision, hearing, and blood pressure. Providers also will determine whether an adolescent needs any immunizations or lab tests.
Both parents and health care providers can help teens receive recommended clinical preventive services by taking advantage of every visit a teen makes to a health care provider. Sick visits also can be used to offer some preventive care. Get more information from Healthfinder.gov for parents of adolescents ages 11-14 and parents of teens ages 15-17.
Content last reviewed on March 16, 2017