In 1995, the general public became aware that ADHD is not just for kids, but is a condition that affects individuals across the lifespan. In that ground-breaking year, Driven to Distraction, by Edward Hallowell, MD, and John Ratey, MD, became a national bestseller. In the intervening years, ADHD in adults has become a well-recognized reality. CHADD, the largest national advocacy organization for individuals with ADHD changed its name to reflect the fact that adults have ADHD. In the intervening years, adult support groups began to form in many communities.
Now, many adults who were diagnosed with ADHD in the ’90s are in or nearing retirement, and the ADHD community needs to turn its attention to how individuals with ADHD are affected as they make the major life shift from work life to the “bonus years,” as the decade from age 60 to age 70 has been dubbed.
These “bonus years” for “sixty-somethings” are a very different time than for previous generations. We are living longer and many in their sixties are in good health and want to pursue long-postponed dreams instead of heading for the golf course. Yet without a good plan, the “bonus years” can be empty and frustrating.
How are the “bonus years” affected by ADHD?
Little has been written about retirement, aging and ADHD. But this developing issue in the ADHD community should not be ignored. An increasing number of individuals are in need of assistance as they make the transition from work years to bonus years and beyond. The shift from work to retirement is often difficult because the structure, support and stimulation of work life suddenly disappears with little to take its place. Under-stimulation sets in, often accompanied by boredom, lethargy and depression.
What can adults with ADHD do to prepare for a more ADD-friendly retirement?
› Plan ahead — and get help in creating a plan.
› Look for structured activities
› Consider working part-time so that there’s a reason to get up, get dressed, and get going in the morning.
› Work with a counselor or coach experienced in working with adults with ADD to help you to chart a course for post-retirement and stay on track.
ADHD impacts us throughout our lifespan. Each period of life poses particular challenges that can be even more challenging for individuals with ADHD. Here at Chesapeake, Dr. Kathleen Nadeau has begun pioneering work regarding the impact of retirement on those with ADHD. She and her colleagues can provide a range of supports and services to assist individuals preparing for retirement as well as those already in their retirement years, including:
› Preparing for retirement — planning ahead to prepare for the loss of structure and support that occurs when work life suddenly stops; building in needed structure and support for post-retirement through planned activities and daily schedules
› ADD Coaching to implement post-retirement plans — providing support as an individual works to develop new daily habits and patternsProfessional organizing for de-cluttering and down-sizing — individuals who are de-cluttering after years of accumulation or who are down-sizing to a condominium or week-end home can greatly benefit from the services of our professional organizer who can help them achieve great results in a surprisingly short time period
› Consultation regarding post-retirement employment — many individuals with ADHD find that part-time employment, self-employment or consulting work provides a much-needed level of structure and stimulation after retirement from full-time employment
› Post-retirement counseling — for both individuals and couples — working together to develop constructive habits and attitudes that can lead to satisfying retirement years; retirement affects not only individuals, but their spouses. Counseling can help both partners develop new living patterns that are mutually supportive.