Can 18-year-olds Still See a Pediatrician?
Turning 18 is the magical age when your kids become legal adults. As such they are able to vote, enlist in the military, purchase lottery tickets, change their names, give their own consent for vaccines/tattoos/piercings, apply for credit cards, serve on a jury and many other privileges. With all of these grown-up life decisions accessible to them, it may seem strange to continue taking them to their pediatrician for health care. Although most pediatricians continue seeing patients through age 18, you and your adult child should start thinking about finding an adult doctor to take over their care before their 19th birthday. Options include a family medicine doctor, primary care physician (PCP), general practitioner, internal medicine doctor, etc.
Your 18-year-old child can continue to receive preventative health services, diagnosis and medical care from their pediatrician. Well visits will still include basic health checks such as height and weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, vision, physical exams, immunizations if necessary, etc. The pediatrician may ask parents to leave the exam room to promote an open flow of communication regarding sensitive topics such as:
- Mental health
- Alcohol/drug abuse
- Eating disorders
- Menstrual counseling
- Sexual activity
- Pregnancy prevention
You May Not Need to Switch
Some primary care doctors also provide pediatric services. This can eliminate the need to switch over to an adult primary care physician, allowing your 18-year-old to continue seeing the same doctor from their youth. This is especially helpful if your child has an ongoing or chronic condition that has been monitored and treated by their pediatrician for years. Rather than needing to set up a transition of care to another doctor, the care can continue as normal.
Whether or not you have to switch doctors, if your 18-year-old is physically and mentally able to do so, start encouraging them to take an active role in their health care: let them schedule their own appointments and get prescription refills, etc. They will eventually need to take charge of their own health matters.
The team at Westgate Family Physicians are pediatric doctors in Spartanburg, SC, who are also family medicine doctors. We can care for all members of your family – for life! If you would like to schedule an appointment for anyone in your family, please call (864) 574-0070 or click here.