By the time you get to be my age, you have had a lot of life experience – in my case more than seven decades of experiences. If you are like me, your hair has gone white and when you walk by anything that reflects your image back at you, you see your mother (or father)!
I remember when my father turned 65 and retired from his career with a major chemical corporation. I couldn’t believe my father could possibly be that old! At that time retirement seemed like an invitation to sit in a rocking chair waiting for the younger family members to stop by to pay their respects. That was my experience with my older relatives when I was a child.
Ideas about aging have changed. Given the prospect of living two or three decades after retirement, many people are deciding that they want the later years of their lives to be as rich and full as possible. Today people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s (even 90s) are actively engaged in all aspects of life. Some of us can’t imagine retiring! Some of us need to work due to economic necessity. Others can’t bring ourselves to stop interacting with life and making contributions wherever we can. Some of us go back to school for diplomas or degrees we couldn’t manage earlier. The possibilities are vast.
Some people of our age may be living with a burden of beliefs that these later years can provide an opportunity to shed! People with undiagnosed ADHD may have spent their lives feeling broken, inferior, shamed. They may carry the weight of stories about how they didn’t measure up or how they caused trouble for everyone who cared about them.
I’d like to suggest one way to enrich the “senior” decades for the 85 percent of people who have ADHD but don’t know they have it. If you or a loved one suspect that you might have ADHD, learn more about it. If you identify with what you are learning, speak with a clinician who specializes in ADHD to see if your suspicions are confirmed. Then begin a treatment program that is personalized just for you.
ADHD was not understood when we were in elementary or grammar school. In the mid-20th century the behaviors that are now seen as indicating the neurodevelopmental disorder called ADHD were labeled variously as minimal brain damage/disorder/dysfunction (among other names) and were often seen as indicating a moral defect or failure.
Much more is known about the brain today. New information seems to show up almost daily. It’s now understood that someone with what is called ADHD has a brain that is structured and functions differently in some respects from the 90 or so percent of people who are neurotypical. Some attributes of the ADHD brain are amazingly positive and creative and need to be discovered and appreciated. Some attributes of the ADHD brain can be problematic when one tries to function in a world set up for neurotypicals.
ADHD is no longer considered a failure of parenting, though it is highly genetic. It is no longer considered a moral failing, though an ADHD diagnosis is not an excuse for behaving badly. It does explain why certain things are more challenging for you than for most others and for why sometimes things are much more easy.
Individuals of whatever age with ADHD deserve the opportunity to grow in understanding of themselves. To have a full, rich, life, they can learn to appreciate their strengths and talents. They can come to understand how their unique brains work and in light of that information to revise some negative messages they may have been given by parents, teachers, employers, and friends. They can grow in compassion for themselves as well as for those who failed to appreciate them as they grew up.
All of these processes and more can be facilitated by a coach trained to work with folks with ADHD or Executive Functioning challenges. If you would like to embark on the adventure of appreciating yourself, exploring your strengths and talents, determining your goals and moving toward them, and finding what tools and strategies work best for you, take advantage of the free exploratory session described at freetobecoaching.com.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE!