ADHD in Older Adults: What You Need to Know

ADHD in Older Adults: What You Need to Know
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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects adults, too. ADHD is a brain condition that includes distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. It causes problems with self-control, relationships, and managing daily tasks at home and work. If you’re an adult with ADHD or if you’re the parent of someone with the condition, you’ve probably noticed that your symptoms are different from those of younger people with ADHD. This article will help you learn about the symptoms of ADHD in older adults and how treatment differs from that of younger people with ADHD.

Symptoms

Signs of ADHD can start early but only become apparent as adulthood rolls around. This causes some people to live their lives thinking they are just forgetful, disorganized, and lazy. Unfortunately, these symptoms are not all that uncommon and they don’t always mean that a person has ADHD. There is often no clear-cut answer when it comes to diagnosing someone with ADHD especially if they are already an adult; however, there are ways of coming close to diagnosing with a fair amount of accuracy, which will be explained below.

Diagnosis

Anyone can be diagnosed with ADHD, but it’s more common among children. According to a 2016 survey by pharmaceutical company Shire Pharmaceuticals, one in 20 Americans over age 45 is living with ADHD. However, not many older adults are diagnosed due to a lack of understanding about how it affects them differently. Although there’s no typical ADHD patient, there are some symptoms you should look out for, such as distractibility; It can be easy for older adults with ADHD (especially those without other health conditions) to lose focus and get distracted from daily tasks like reading or completing paperwork. 

Treatment Options

Two different types of medication are used for ADHD treatment. These medications are stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants include drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse. Non-stimulant options include Strattera, Intuniv, and Kapvay. For adults who aren’t being treated or have previously tried stimulant medications without success, non-stimulant medication is an excellent choice. Many people may prefer a non-stimulant because they don’t need to worry about drug interactions with other medications or side effects like feeling wired or jittery.

Management

It’s important to note that, while symptoms of ADHD can present differently in older adults, they are just as impacted by ADHD and should be treated with medication if needed. Studies have shown that treatment with stimulants has been just as effective for treating attention problems and hyperactivity in older patients as it is for younger patients, who are most often treated with stimulants. There is some evidence that non-stimulant medications are maybe even more effective for treating adult patients; however, at this time there is little research into how well these medications work. And since side effects like fatigue and weight gain may also occur at different rates among older adults (in general) taking a non-stimulant drug, you’ll want to discuss with your provider which options would work best for you.

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