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Does ADHD Get Worse With Old Age?
"I'm curious about the effect of old age on ADHD. Do symptoms tend to level off or get progressively worse with age? Is ADHD linked to Alzheimer's?
Adult ADHD has been widely recognized only in the last dozen years, so, at this point, we have no research on how aging impacts ADHD. As a psychologist who has worked with older adults with ADHD, my clinical impression is that symptoms can become more problematic post-retirement. We know that, at every age, structure and routine are helpful in managing ADHD symptoms. But as adults grow older and retire, many of their habits and routines fall away. There is no evidence that ADHD is linked to Alzheimer's, however.
When working with older adults, I advise them to develop and stick to daily and weekly routines. Although some physicians are reluctant to prescribe stimulant medication to older adults, I think it can be used safely and effectively by most older patients as long as they receive a careful medical checkup before starting medication, as the drugs pose higher risks for people with cardiac complications.
Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., is director of the Chesapeake ADHD Center of Maryland in Silver Spring. She is a psychologist who has practiced for over thirty years, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. She has served on the professional advisory boards of both CHADD and ADDA. She is the co-founder of the National Center for Gender Issues in ADHD, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of girls and women with ADHD. Dr. Nadeau has appeared on the Today Show, the Morning Show, as well as on numerous radio programs is a frequent lecturer both in the US and abroad on topics related to ADHD.