ADHD News & Research

Increased Dementia Risk in Adults with ADHD

Adults with ADHD were more than three times as likely to develop dementia in their later years than counterparts without ADHD, although the link between the two disorders remains unclear.

July 10, 2017

A mid-size Taiwanese study, published in June in the Journal of Attention Disorders, showed that adults with ADHD are more prone to developing dementia later in life. The study relied on data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database, which includes more than 99 percent of the population. Rather than look at the entire population, researchers focused on 675 adults between the ages of 18 and 54 who were diagnosed with ADHD in the year 2000, as well more than 2,000 gender- and age-matched control subjects without ADHD.

According to insurance claims over a 10-year period, the adults with ADHD were 3.4 times more likely to develop dementia than the control subjects, the study found. This association remained after the researchers controlled for age, gender, comorbid diagnoses, and income levels. The results sync up with a 2011 study that found that adults with a certain type of dementia were likely to have had ADHD symptoms earlier in life, and support the link between ADHD and other brain-based disorders.

The reason for the specific link between ADHD and dementia “remains unclear,” the researchers wrote, and the current study was not without limitations. Since the information came solely from insurance claims, for instance, it was impossible to control for family history, education levels, or other factors that may have contributed to the development of dementia. On top of that, the subjects weren’t diagnosed with ADHD using uniform methods, the researchers wrote, meaning some of the control group might have had undiagnosed ADHD, and vice versa.

Despite these limitations, however, the link between ADHD and dementia is concerning, and warrants further investigation, the researchers said. They recommend that more studies be done — particularly ones that use larger nationwide data sets.

4 Comments & Reviews

  1. That is concerning but some of the criteria for diagnosing dementia is the same as that for diagnosing ADHD. It appears to me and I am not an expert that the symptom overlap could result in ADHDers being referred sooner and more often particularly by seniors they already have one foot in that pool. The other concern would be in diagnosing adult ADHD in 2000. I believe only the most critical of those with the condition at that time would have been diagnosed. If the ratio of adders at that time was significantly below current levels ……. Finally there are those who are drug users who fake the symptoms. What is there contribution. Statistically it is a pain that we cant do population studies in the one place that the results are transferable USA

  2. I am 59 years old and was diagnosed with ADHD approx 24 years ago. I have been successfully treated with medication, behavior, diet and vitamin suppliment modifications. Overall, my quality of life has been improved 100% since before I was diagnosed. My issue is that I am losing pieces of my memory of events and things in my past. Not bad things; vacation trip details,family events with my children etc. The important memories that one would expect to remember in detail. My mother is now 84 (she is undiagnosed ADHD for sure) and I am seeing her losing her short term memory quickly with the last 6 months. At what point do I need to be concerned about Dementia/Alzheimer’s for myself and Mom. I have mentioned this to my Neurologist with no concrete answers. I am scared and don’t want to wait till it’s too late. Where do I go from here? Please respond asap. Thanks.

  3. I have 8 older siblings of which only two have been diagnosed with dementia as was my mother. One sister and my mother i am sure were both Adhd. Unlike you I was not diagnosed until the age of 70. Was not active and my memory particularly my short term memory was diminishing rapidly a few years before. At that time, Fortunately i was diagnosed as major depression and treated with Vanlafaxine (Effixor) over few months Memory returned dramatically so much so that in a few years I was able to recognize that my other symptoms were not dementia but checked out as ADHD same as my son and adult grandson. Now that i no longer forget i am cooking something, and my angry outbursts disappeared and i no longer returned to my apt 3 times for forgotten materials each time i went out etc etc etc. The verbal run at the mouth and other symptoms remained.
    My mother was in her 90s and my two sisters mid to late eighties before the onset. Two of the 3 had many ADHD symtoms all their lives Including my mother who lived to 97. Two others died in their seventies symptom free. . My two brothers now 83 and 88 are symptom free of ADHD and or Dementia..
    too small a sample I know but it is encouraging for me at 72. And hopefully for you.

  4. As to memory that is embarassingly good for my age. With little or no effort I memorize 110 pieces of new classical choral music Bass part each year. There are limits however. I had to spend an hour at home recently memorizing Mozarts Requiem. About 80 pages of music. That hour is in addition to 2 hours a week with the choir.

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