5 Things About ADHD in Seniors You May Not Know

ADHD In Seniors

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is a condition that often affects kids. This condition causes them to become hyperactive, compulsive, and inattentive. Sadly, this condition also affects older adults. A study about ADHD in adults found that 4.4% of older adults have ADHD.

Secondly, the majority of seniors who have ADHD are sometimes diagnosed with other conditions that cause cognitive impairment. The reason, many experts associate ADHD with kids and younger adults; not seniors. On the contrary, seniors who were diagnosed with ADHD as kids are more likely to develop the condition in their old age. We look at five other things about ADHD in elders you may not know:

ADHD Often gets Misdiagnosed with Dementia

Health professionals often look for signs of a stroke or dementia when examining patients aged 60 and above because their symptoms are pretty similar to ADHD. However, physicians need to distinguish between the memory difficulties caused by ADHD and those caused by dementia. Generally, dementia reduces an individual’s ability to remember while ADHD decreases their ability to learn. 

It’s Difficult to Diagnose ADHD in Seniors

There’s no special tool used to diagnose ADHD in seniors, making it even harder to diagnose. Additionally, there are no professionals trained to diagnose and treat ADHD in seniors. Partly, it is because many primary care doctors hardly encounter adults who have ADHD

As such, physicians can only observe a senior’s daily routine to determine if they have ADHD. Screening tools and digital aides like care planning software used by caregivers also provide adequate information psychologists can use to diagnose and treat seniors for ADHD. 

Getting the patient’s in-depth history and corroborating information from friends, family, and caregivers also help clinicians diagnose the problem with certainty. 

ADHD Causes Varying Symptoms in Older People

The most common symptoms of ADHD in adults are:

  • Difficulty coping with stress
  • Hot temper
  • Erratic mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Reduced frustration tolerance
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management

The condition has different symptoms in older adults creating extremities in happy and sad moods. It explains why some seniors become happier while others get extremely sad. Generally, ADHD impairs one’s executive functioning, which affects one’s ability to maintain attention as well as self-control.

As such, once this function declines, the patient is bound to exhibit extreme symptoms. This means some seniors may seem to thrive despite the underlying condition while others struggle sometimes becoming socially isolated and having trouble managing their homes.

Requires Similar Treatment as ADHD in Kids

While ADHD symptoms are more severe in seniors than in kids, treatment regimens are similar. The individual needs to acknowledge that they have the condition and understand its effects on their daily routine. Next, the physician may schedule therapy and prescribe medication. 

The good news is that older adults respond to ADHD treatment just as well as kids. Since ADHD treatment is associated with cardiovascular problems, the diagnosing physician should understand how the medication presents in older adults. Sometimes the stimulants overstimulate the patient’s brain causing agitation.  

ADHD Affects Older Women Differently

Women who have ADHD experience symptoms early in their mid-40s with more symptoms presenting as they get older. Even with stimulant medication, the symptoms hardly taper off because estrogen levels are incredibly low in their body. 

As such, women with ADHD should consider visiting physicians specializing in integrative medicine, too to discuss hormone replacement alternatives.


These five points should help you understand that ADHD also affects older adults and may present additional symptoms. Women, especially, experience symptoms in their 40s and are likely to exhibit extreme behavior change in their 50s. Also, the condition requires the same treatment as that used to treat ADHD in kids.

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