Lots of attention is being paid to children and young adults with ADHD/ADD. Lately, girls and women with these conditions are being understood. Now is the time to look at what happens with older people – as individuals and in relationships.
There isn’t as much research on these topics as is needed. Many of our insights come from clinical experience and group experience. So, while we’re waiting for the scientists to publish their findings, here are some helpful tips and some new perspectives.
There is one caution. Older people with ADHD/ADD may have never been diagnosed with these conditions. As a consequence, they may have never had their needs addressed. Many may have suffered personally and professionally. They may have had poor relationships, poor job success, and a history of substance abuse. Some people may have come to the realization that they have ADHD or ADD late in life.
Other people may have succeeded socially or professionally to a high degree. Still, both groups may feel the scars of wrong labels, prejudice, and misunderstanding. These scars cover up a great deal of pain and loss.
The first task older people with ADHD or ADD need to confront is the past. They need to understand that the past need not determine the future. A person must accept that past and forgive her or himself for whatever has happened because of these conditions. The second task is to acknowledge and be proud of what she or he has done successfully in navigating the world. One of my patients in her late sixties just found out that she “had” it and started berating herself for her failed marriages. She disparaged the fact that she had held a high level medical job and raised five children as a single mom. So give yourself credit and go to the next stage in part 2.