Many people are familiar with the commonality of ADHD in children. However, what many people do not realise, including some doctors, is that there is a large number of adults with ADHD who have yet to be treated.
“Around 2.5% of adults have ADHD; currently 0.2% are being treated,” said Professor David Coghill, who is Chair of University of Melbourne Developmental Mental Health. “So around one in 10 adults with ADHD are being recognised and treated.”
Furthermore, because more research revolves around the symptoms of children with ADHD, knowledge on adults with ADHD is limited, making their more subtle symptoms harder to identify. This is especially true when it comes to diagnosing seniors with ADHD. Because of the cognitive decline that comes with ageing, symptoms that could point to ADHD such as forgetfulness and being distracted are easily misdiagnosed with elderly diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia that involve memory loss.
What is ADHD in the Elderly?
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is described as a mental health condition that is determined by analyzing a person’s behaviour. For a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, they need to show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity that interferes with day-to-day functioning and/or development.
Though both children and adults can be diagnosed with ADHD, the symptoms manifest themselves differently across age groups due to factors such as changing maturity and increased awareness of behavioural/societal expectations of the person. For example, young children with ADHD may demand extreme levels of activity, progressing to mild fidgeting in adolescence, and finally developing into a self-contained, constant state of restlessness.
What are the Symptoms of ADHD in Seniors?
As stated above, ADHD symptoms in older adults tend to be more subtle than in children so they can be difficult to notice. This is especially true when some of the symptoms overlap with other symptoms that are common in old age, or more specifically, Alzheimer’s Disease, or even Dementia. However, some specialists have come up with this list of ADHD symptoms in adults:
- have unpredictable mood swings
- make careless mistakes at work
- find it hard to sustain attention in work or leisure
- not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- not follow instructions or finish tasks
- find it hard to organise tasks and activities
- avoid sustained mental effort in work
- lose things like keys, paperwork and things needed for tasks
- be easily distracted by other stimuli
- be forgetful in daily activities
- fidget with hands or feet, or squirm in their seat
- find it hard to remain seated
- constantly run to do things
- be impatient
- have trouble doing things quietly
- talk excessively
- blurt out things without thinking
- have trouble waiting their turn in queues and other such situations
- butt into conversations or other activities.
- have sleep difficulties.
Some of these symptoms involving forgetfulness can falsely appear to be signs of Alzheimer’s Disease or cognitive decline in ageing, when really, they are related to lack of attention rather than memory loss. For this reason, it is important to distinguish the ADHD symptoms from the effects of ageing and look at the overall picture. Looking into family history of ADHD, as well as noting whether the senior has had a life-long history of being unable to focus are helpful tactics that can steer you in the right direction for effective treatment.
Talk to Your Doctor: Look into ADHD Tests for Seniors
If you are concerned that you or a loved one might have untreated ADHD, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to address the issue and receive an official diagnosis. It is important to provide your doctor with as much context and information as possible to give them a better understanding of where you’re coming from. Try to be as detailed as possible, and if you do have a life-long history of inattention or a family history of ADHD, bring this up as well. Your doctor should then do a thorough assessment to determine whether you can be diagnosed with ADHD or not.
Treatment: ADHD Medication for Adults and Therapy
If you or your loved one are diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor will offer a few different treatment options. While ADHD medication is known to be very effective in lessening the negative symptoms of ADHD, it is also a stimulant. For seniors with cardiac or blood pressure problems, the doctor will want to get those conditions sorted out before possibly describing a stimulant.
Other options include Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), mindfulness techniques, and psychoeducational groups that aim to help you:
- Find ways to make sure that you do important tasks.
- Find ways to organise your life better.
- Get self-critical thoughts into perspective, and so feel better about yourself.
- Reduce unhelpful feelings of anxiety.
Have a discussion with your doctor as to which treatment option would work best for you, as well as what they would recommend. Remember that it is never too late to get an ADHD diagnosis, start treatment, or start making adjustments that improve you or your loved one’s quality of life.
Keep Safe—Stay Securely Strapped in with a Stairlift Elevator
Stair lifts can help prevent accidents on the stairs for seniors that have ADHD, or really anyone that struggles with mobility issues and/or climbing up staircases. Because seniors are already prone to injuries from falling on the stairs, disorders such as ADHD can increase their risk of falling. For example, if a senior with ADHD is climbing the stairs and gets distracted, failing to solidly plant their foot on a step, a simple misstep could turn into a fatal fall.
Acorn stairlifts are customised to fit your unique needs and staircases, whether indoor or outdoor, curved or straight, or wide or narrow. Stairlifts for seniors, the disabled, and anyone with mobility issues are the ultimate safety solution for overcoming the steepest of stairs. Acorn stairlifts keep you safely strapped in when traveling up or down the stairs, giving you full access to the home you love while keeping you safe.