The Burden of ADHD in Older Adults: A Qualitative Study

M. Michielsen*, J. Th C.M. de Kruif, H. C. Comijs, S. van Mierlo, E. J. Semeijn, A. T.F. Beekman, D. J.H. Deeg, J. J.S. Kooij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To explore how ADHD may have affected the lives of older adults who meet the diagnostic criteria of ADHD, but are unaware of their diagnosis. Our second aim was to examine whether the reported symptoms change over the life span. Method: A qualitative study was conducted. Seventeen Dutch older people (>65 years) diagnosed in this study with ADHD participated in in-depth interviews. Data were analyzed according to techniques of thematic approach. Results: Seven themes emerged from the analyses. Four themes correspond to ADHD symptoms: “being active,” “being impulsive,” “attention problems,” and “mental restlessness.” In addition, the themes “low self-esteem,” “overstepping boundaries,” and “feeling misunderstood” emerged. The impact of ADHD symptoms seems to have declined with age. Conclusion: ADHD has a negative impact on late life, and older adults with the disorder may benefit from treatment. Moreover, this study’s findings call for early detection and treatment of ADHD in children and adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-600
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number6
Early online date29 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam is largely supported by a grant from The Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, Directorate of Long-Term Care. Sandra Kooij has received unrestricted research grants for this research from Shire and for other research from Janssen-Cilag until 2010. She has been a speaker for Janssen-Cilag, Shire, and Eli Lilly until 2012. Aartjan Beekman has received grants for research from Eli Lilly, Astra Zeneca, Janssen, and Shire and as a speaker from Lundbeck and Eli Lilly.

FundersFunder number
Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, Directorate of Long-Term Care


    • ADHD
    • older adults
    • qualitative study


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