Eighty Years Old with ADHD? Frequently, Yes.

The incidence of ADHD in the elderly is higher than previously thought, and woefully under-diagnosed.

elderly often manifests as “disorganization, forgetfulness, unreliability, and poor performance in planning, task completion, task shifting and task management.”

These traits can have a severe impact on these adults’ ability to thrive. The 2012 study noted that “[t]hose afflicted work below their intellectual level, have problems in relationships and social contacts, have problems organising their daily lives, are more likely to have accidents, more often have comorbid psychiatric disorders and more often display antisocial behaviour compared with adults without ADHD.”

adhd-epidemic-or-hype
Credit: Source

Liberation through Diagnosis

For elderly patients who are finally diagnosed with ADHD, receiving treatment can be life-changing. Dr. David Goodman, a professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine, characterized the experience as “liberating.” In a recent interview with Judith Berck for the New York Times, he explained “Let’s say you’ve spent your whole life not functioning at a level that you could, and you believed that was an outgrowth of you as a person, and all of a sudden you received a diagnosis and medication that showed you that all of the criticism from the environment wasn’t because of who you were, it was because of what you had. That is a very liberating experience, even if you’re 65, 72 or 83.”

Even just the diagnosis of ADHD can be freeing. One 85-year-old woman profiled for Health Central who declined treatment for ADHD noted that the diagnosis alone helped rid her of a lot of her negative self-image, including a 75-year-old belief that she was neither smart nor capable. One senior who recently received an ADHD diagnosis described knowing about the problem and treating it properly as giving him “a new life.”

There is hope that more individuals will be allowed to obtain relief from a lifetime of symptoms and self-doubt as ADHD becomes a recognized ailment in the elderly. As reported by The Guardian, psychiatrist JJ Sandra Kooij hoped to see “an emancipation of older people suffering from a lifetime as victims of ADHD that were never recognised or treated.”

As Dr. Goodman stated, “I don’t care what age you are, you should not be denied the opportunity to pursue happiness.” For some, that opportunity may be finally realized in a diagnosis of ADHD.

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