By Kaitlyn Pfiester
ADHD impacts the part of the brain that controls your ability to plan, focus and execute ideas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 13% of boys are diagnosed with ADHD. Some will outgrow it, but others will not, meaning plenty of men are dealing with ADHD into retirement.
Women have unique issues with ADHD as they age as well, of course. And we covered a bit of that last week. But men with ADHD can have special issues in retirement. This article will focus on them.
Symptoms of ADHD in older men
ADDitude Magazine notes that ADHD symptoms often flare up after midlife. The issue is that many ADHD symptoms, such as memory problems, shorter attention spans and other symptoms, can also be attributed to aging.
So how can you tell the difference?
The mental health field is still working to improve awareness and understand the difference between the two. However, this is where knowing yourself and examining your life can help. If you had ADHD-like symptoms before retirement or as you hit middle age, there is a higher chance that ADHD is to blame. Some of these symptoms (for men in particular), according to PsychCentral.com, are:
- Interrupting conversations or speaking out of turn
- Fidgeting or an inability to sit still
- Disruptive behavior
- Absentmindedness (forgetting parts of conversations, listening without retaining information)
- Relationships issues
- Lying to cover up inadequacies (such as low work performance or struggling to plan)
These symptoms may have been a part of your life for years. However, getting older may bring them to your attention as they worsen. Asking the opinion of loved ones, especially a spouse or close friend, can help determine the difference.
Seven tips for men with ADHD in retirement
- Create a flexible routine: Many men with ADHD, upon retirement, feel a keen sense of relief at no longer having to stick to a schedule. Your brain may enjoy the lack of structure, but not having a routine can cause you to forget to take care of yourself and your relationships, which can cause additional strain and stress. Try using sticky notes to remind yourself of your responsibilities and timers to keep you from losing track of time.
- Take advantage of your hyperfocus: Work on what you want to work on and lean into your hyperfocus. To-do lists are often ranked based on urgency and priorities. However, don’t be afraid to challenge where a task lands on your list. You may get more done by concentrating on your hyperfocus before moving on.
- Eat breakfast and care for yourself: Your brain needs fuel to function. WebMD notes that skipping breakfast can worsen your symptoms, so be intentional about this important meal.
- Understand your triggers: Certain activities or situations, such as stress, lack of sleep or noisy environments, may worsen your symptoms. Try taking note of when you find this happening so that you will be mentally prepared in the future.
- Create steps and rewards for projects: While most studies exploring this issue have focused on children with ADHD, a study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders explored the question of how small rewards might affect the performance of adults with ADHD on congnitive tests. The study found both positive and negative effects. It found that participants with ADHD tended to show less inattention with rewards. But the study also found increased hyperactivity with rewards for adults with ADHD. Still, there might be some benefits to using rewards. Try outlining what needs to get done and splitting it up into sections. Each time a section is complete, reward yourself.
- Be social: While it can be challenging to keep up with relationships when you have ADHD, interacting with others is essential for your mental health. Focus on developing close relationships with a few people who understand you. Group activities can be fun, but if you find they cause stress, it’s okay to pass on those opportunities and focus more on intimate relationships.
- Seek treatment: Treatment for ADHD can be challenging for seniors of both genders because many physicians struggle to tell the difference between ADHD and old age. However, if you think you may have ADHD, try seeking help through a mental health professional, preferably one specializing in ADHD. They will know to help you navigate and manage your symptoms regardless of the diagnosis.