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Is My ADHD Getting Worse With Age?

Reading time | 3 min

There comes a time in many adults’ lives where there is a “settling in” of sorts. The kids no longer need you 24/7 and leave the family nest for college, work, or marriage. You’ve settled into your chosen career, and work seems to have stabilized. You may finally have a steady schedule in your private life and work life. In general, your routine is well-established.

You’ve saved money throughout the years, and dreams of retirement begin to take shape as the idea of a downsized, cozy cottage on a lake feel more real and less imagined.

Wouldn’t all of this be great if it were true?

If you’re living with ADHD, it likely means the above scenario doesn’t resonate with you at all.

In actuality, many adults with ADHD still struggle with all of the above. Getting older doesn’t always mean getting better, especially if you haven’t been able to get the appropriate treatment for your ADHD.

Here’s a look at why this happens, and what you can do if you find yourself struggling.

Midlife difficulties with ADHD

Since ADHD is highly genetic, chances are that one or more of your children have ADHD. You’d think that by midlife, with your children moved out, life would ease up. But perhaps your adult child still needs financial or emotional support. This takes quite a bit of energy from a parent who’s already exhausted from many years of struggling with their own ADHD, let alone meeting the family’s needs.

Adults living with ADHD often struggle financially because of procrastination, disorganization, and poor record-keeping. Getting taxes filed on time, for example, can be as difficult as climbing Mount Everest.

Symptoms of ADHD like inattention, impulsivity, distractibility, and disorderliness can lead to a difficult career path. Jobs can be hard to hang on to, thus resulting in frequent job changes, moves, and even reductions in salary. You may get bored easily and find yourself shifting from one job to another, losing out on seniority and financial perks. Or you could still be searching for the right career match.

As you look around at friends and families who don’t have ADHD in their daily lives, your self-esteem can plummet. You may be thinking, “Why do I keep getting fired at this age? Why am I still unable to keep my house tidy even though the kids have long flown the coop? Why can’t I save money and enjoy a nice vacation?”

To add to the difficulties mature adults living with ADHD face, there’s also the dilemma commonly seen in women going through perimenopause and menopause. Hormonal changes can cause ADHD symptoms to worsen, making life even more difficult for women.

For men and women, aging can also lead to cognitive changes. This is something that adults with ADHD can’t afford to lose, as it just adds to the lifetime struggles of memory issues and other problems with cognitive functioning.

What can you do?

Having ADHD in midlife and beyond isn’t the worst thing that can happen, and not all adults falter during this stage in life. If you find yourself struggling, try the following:

  • Check that your ADHD is being treated optimally. This includes medication, counseling, education or training, therapy or a combination of treatments. Make sure those around you understand your challenges. Find ways to connect with other adults living with ADHD in-person or online by joining organizations and attending meetings, workshops, and conferences.
  • Recognize the specific roadblocks that are pulling you down. Are you having trouble saving your money for retirement? Consult with a financial planner. The small investment you make in hiring one will pay off in the end.
  • Work with a career counselor who can guide you in making changes and offer you work-related strategies. Contact your local vocational rehabilitation services program in your city to find a professional.
  • Connect or reconnect with your medical team to discuss possible medication changes. If you’re a woman having hormone-related cognitive changes, work with your healthcare provider. During this time in your life, you may need to discuss medication changes with your healthcare providers.

The takeaway

ADHD is a lifetime neurobiological condition. While it doesn’t go away, it can certainly be treated. In fact, it’s one of the most treatable mental health conditions. Be proactive in getting the support you need. You may find that this time in your life can actually be the best. And soon enough, you just might be relaxing in your hammock, overlooking that cool, sparkling blue lake.

ADHD-US-NP-00012 MAY 2018