A new study published in the JAMA Network Open shows that adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia compared to other older adults.
The study published earlier this month uses data from over 109,000 people in Israel born between 1933 and 1952, with additional data collected between 2003 and 2020. In that timeframe after the initial study, nearly 1% of older adults diagnosed with ADHD and 7% of those studied were diagnosed with dementia.
Untreated ADHD can lead to various negative health consequences, and ADHD may impact brain heath, with the study finding that an adult diagnosed with ADHD is associated with a “2.77-fold increased risk of dementia,” researchers stated in the study.
While the study does not attempt to show whether or not ADHD is a direct cause of brain decline, the results show the benefits of seeking preventative medical care.
In the study, researchers found that 0.7% of the 109,218 adults between ages 51 and 70-years-old were diagnosed with ADHD and 7.1% were diagnosed with dementia. From a total of 730 participants with ADHD, 13.2% of participants in the study were given dementia diagnoses while just 7% of the participants without an ADHD diagnosis developed signs of dementia.
The study reported that adults with an ADHD diagnosis that were taking proper medications did not develop an increased risk of dementia compared to those who were undiagnosed and not on medication, with 22.3% of participants having ever taken medication for treatment of ADHD.
Also, the rate at which adults are diagnosed with ADHD may be underdiagnosed, the study found.
Senior living operators have spent more time in recent years revamping, launching and pivoting to memory care offerings centered on extending resident quality of life through life enrichment and wellness offerings. That’s been paired with renewed focus on injecting memory care models with the latest scientific data around brain health.
That comes as assisted living residents are dealing with more than 14 chronic health conditions when they enter senior living on average, and operators must consider cognitive support to ensure the wellbeing of residents in late stages of senior living.
“It’s a message that policymakers, caregivers, patients and clinicians, as well as individuals, with ADHD or without, who suspect they have it should consider the reliable monitoring of ADHD in adult old age,” lead study author Stephen Levine told the Washington Post.
Levine told the post that “we don’t know much” about adult ADHD, adding to the challenges surrounding future study of brain function, memory loss and hyperactivity.
“If there is a potential for psychostimulant medication to mitigate the risk of dementia in individuals with ADHD, then we need to provide resources for further research to confirm that possibility,” Levine told the Washington Post.