Monday, April 25, 2016
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Older Adults (Research, Video 3:17)
A former school principal, I have known many students diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They often displayed behaviors such as inability concentrating on and completing tasks, mood swings, operating impulsively, and having low tolerance levels when interacting with others. I actually witnessed a father who was so frustrated with his seventh-grade son’s destructive and belligerent behavior that he asked him, “Son, why don’t you just run away?” This father also refused to put his diagnosed son on medication.
Many young people with ADHD age into adulthood never knowing why they act the way they do. They become older adults before they are even diagnosed. Imagine the anger and grief of discovering late in life that the sadness and madness you endured all those years went nameless, undiagnosed, and untreated. An increasing number of those who went many years undiagnosed with ADHD are now over 50 years old.
Unfortunately, ADHD research on older adults is limited. However, there is reason to believe that symptoms decrease with age and that medication can be helpful for them. Side effects of medicine may cause more problems after age 65. Different psychological therapies are also helpful alone or with medication for patients who are motivated. Most important is good support based on knowledge and understanding of how ADHD has affected health, quality of life, and function throughout their lives.
What’s it like being diagnosed with ADHD later in life? In this video, Dr. Barkley explains the difficulties and the need for acceptance.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
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