ADHD 'affects as many over-60s as children' as youngsters 'may not grow out of condition'
00:14 GMT, 9 August 2012
It's a condition we usually associate with the young.
But the elderly suffer from ADHD too – it’s not just children, experts claim.
They have discovered that the hyperactivity disorder is almost as common amongst the over-60s as in the young.
The findings by Dutch researchers seem to cast doubt on the popular belief that many children grow out of the condition.
Restless: Children with the condition grow fidgety and restless easily, but are thought to grow out of it (picture posed by model)
Between 2 and 5 per cent of school pupils are thought to suffer from ADHD, which causes a short attention span, restlessness and fidgeting.
And it is thought that about a third will grow-out if it before they are teenagers.
Many of the remainder will see their symptoms improve gradually with age even if they are not completely cured.
But it is not known exactly how widespread the ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is amongst adults – particularly the elderly.
Now researchers from the University Medical Centre in Amsterdam have found that 3 per cent of the over 60s suffer from ADHD – a similar proportion as children.
Their study -published in the British Journal of Psychiatry – looked at 231 Dutch adults aged 60 to 94.
Growing pains: Many people's symptoms fade after adolescence (picture posed by model)
All had been asked to complete surveys which attempted to diagnose the condition.
Questions included whether they found it difficult to watch a film to the end or if they were easily distracted by their own thoughts.
They found that 2.8 per cent had the condition, and its prevalence seemed to diminished with age.
Some 4 per cent of adults aged 60 to 70 were found to have ADHD compared to just 2.1 per cent of those aged 70 to 94.
This may be because symptoms improve with age, or it could be because their test is less able to pick it up in older adults, the experts believe.
Lead researcher Marieke Michielsen said: ‘Little is known about ADHD in old age and this is the first epidemiological study on ADHD in older people.
'With a prevalence of 2.8 per cent, our study demonstrates that ADHD does not face or disappear with age, and that it is a topic very much worthy of further study.'
ADHD was not properly recognised as a medical condition until the 1980s.
So it is probable that many adults who were at school in the proceeding decades have the disorder but have never been properly diagnosed.