What is Adult ADHD?

Tim Watt  |  June 7, 2016

When adults start to get older and their memories start to fade, many people chalk it up to either age, or even early signs of dementia. But what if its neither of those? As it turns out, attention deficit disorder is not just a problem that affects children, it's also very common in adults.

If your patients are getting nervous about forgetting where they've left their keys or missing important dates, they're likely coming to you with the fear that they're developing signs of Alzheimer disease. But adult ADD and ADHD often goes undiagnosed, and creates troubling mental and physical problems as a result. The issue? ADD and ADHD are perfectly treatable cognitive impairments that seniors don't have to suffer from, yet only 1 in 5 clinics actually screen for it in the U.S., reported U.S. News and World Report. 

The New York Times spoke with a couple of doctors regarding the difference between old age and ADHD. These professionals believe the health care industry does a poor job of training professionals about adult ADD.

"Most doctors are not thinking of ADHD as a characteristic of somebody who is 60 or over," said Dr. Thomas Brown, associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders at the Yale School of Medicine. "They figure it's just cognitive decline from aging."

Better senior care and diagnosis and treatments of this disorder starts with more education. Here are some facts that you need to know about adult ADD and ADHD:

What is ADD and ADHD?
Adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a cognitive impairment that makes memory care a challenge for adults as it affects concentration, or causes them to behave impulsively in the case of hyperactivity, stated USN. ADD often starts in childhood, but in many cases is not diagnosed until adulthood. It makes daily activities like finishing chores or paying attention while reading a challenge for adults. Currently, it's estimated that about 1.8 million adults over the age of 50 have ADHD, and that number is expected to grow to 2.5 million by 2050. 

HelpGuide.org explained that this disorder can also lead to a host of other health problems. Anxiety from inattention can lead to poor eating habits, substance abuse and even low self-esteem. These in turn manifest into issues with work and maintaining relationships. 

Signs of Adult ADD/ADHD
First things first, know the signs of adult ADD and ADHD. According to Health Line wellness blog, here are some of key indicators you should be looking for:

  • Inability to focus
  • Hyperfocus (ADHD)
  • Constant state of disorganization
  • Absentmindedness or forgetfulness 
  • Impulsive, interrupting behavior
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Hypercritical 
  • Restlessness 
  • Lack of motivation
  • Trouble maintaining relationships.

How to help your seniors
ADD and ADHD are totally manageable. Elder care for these diseases starts with just a couple of basic strategies. HelpGuide.org explained that eating well, exercising routinely, sleeping soundly and taking a little longer to think about tasks at hand will help seniors with this condition a great deal.