It’s not just for kids anymore! What we know as ADHD was originally understood to be a condition that affected little boys. Over time it was recognized that girls could also have ADHD, though more often girls have the inattentive type as opposed to the hyperactive/impulsive type that shows up more in boys. Around twenty years ago, ADHD was finally accepted as something affecting adults. Some children do seem to grow out of their ADHD symptoms as their brains mature, but in more ADHDers the symptoms change and they learn to compensate as they move into their 20s and beyond.
How are older adults diagnosed with ADHD? Often they see it in their families. PsychCentral reports here that there have been over 1800 studies regarding the role of genetics in ADHD. A 2009 review of those studies showed that genetics accounted for 76 percent of the risk of having ADHD. Some parents discover their own ADHD when their children are diagnosed. In just the same way, some grandparents or even great-grandparents begin to question whether they might have ADHD when the youngest generation in their family has some children who are diagnosed. If that has been your experience, you might want to follow up and find some answers! A diagnosis or at least greater understanding of ADHD is worth pursuing at any age, because it is never too late to learn more about how we function and because there are treatment options available to ADHDers of all ages.
Some of the baby boom generation and even those who are older (my husband and I were born during World War II rather than after it) had no idea that the challenges we faced could be explained by an ADHD diagnosis. My husband, Neil, was diagnosed after turning 60, following decades during which we sought help for behaviors that he couldn’t explain and I couldn’t understand.
A combination of medication and coaching has been suggested by some as the best way to proceed with treatment, though many other things such as nutrition, exercise, and good sleep habits are critical.
Stimulant medications have been on the market since at least the 1930s, and I understand they are actually safer than aspirin when used as directed. They help around 80 percent of those who try them, though each individual will have a unique response and may need to try more than one drug in more than one dose to achieve the optimal level of help.
Coaching is also helpful for people over 50, because they have habits and self-concepts that have been in place for decades. A coach using a strengths-based approach can help a client question whether those habits and beliefs are really true and whether they are serving the client well. The coach can also help the client become aware of the many strengths that may have been unappreciated over the years but that may point the way to a new life that builds on the positive qualities of the ADHD brain.
The bottom line is – you are never too old to check out any hint that you might have ADHD. Your life experience can improve dramatically. Neil and I have seen the truth of that statement in our lives and are delighted to help others like us through our coaching! Our web page is freetobecoaching.com.