ADHD Blog Post

ADHD and Cognitive Function in Older Adults

E. J. Semeijn, N. C. M. Korten, H. C. Comijs, M. Michielsen, D. J. H. Deeg, A. T. F. Beekman and J. J. S. Kooij. No lower cognitive functioning in older adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. International Psychogeriatrics: International Psychogeriatric Association 2015 doi:10.1017/S1041610215000010.

The largest percentage growth in stimulant prescriptions in the last year is in adults over the age of 50 years of age (Adler LA. ADHD in Older Adults. Paper Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, New York , New York, May 2014). Even though stimulant prescriptions may be increasing in older adults with ADHD, the number of studies which have examined older adults with ADHD is relatively small. One concern in studying adults with ADHD is the potential confound of cognitive decline that may occur with aging in assessing ADHD symptoms. This study examined the cognitive function of older adults without ADHD vs. those with ADHD (n=231) in the Longitudinal Study Amsterdam (LASA). Cognitive function was assessed via neuropsychological measures of functioning, information processing speed, memory, and attention/working memory. The authors only found a negative association of ADHD symptom severity and attention/working memory domain; however, when depressive symptoms were controlled for, this association was no longer significant. Neuropsychological impairments in attention and working memory have also been shown in younger adults with ADHD. This study highlights the need for further investigations of cognitive functioning in older adults with ADHD and the importance of screening for depression in these individuals.