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Zebra Stripes for ADHD
A monthly newsletter of stories tips and news for those concerned with ADHD, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, No. 22
Sarah Jane Keyser : ADHD Coach
Joey Meets Grandpa
The herd of zebras was browsing peacefully in the warm golden glow of the late afternoon sun. Long dark shadows from the scattered acacia trees blended with zebra stripes. Joey's white hide shone like a spot light in the late afternoon dusk. The other zebras kept a discreet distance from Joey just in case a hungry lion decided to target him. A loud braying and a clatter of hooves disrupted the evening calm. "Where's Joey? Where's my boy?" Joey's head came up, his ears straight up, poised to run in any direction. He saw a strange apparition; a monster? No, the head and ears looked like a zebra. Was it a zebra? It was all black. "You, must be Joey! I could see you a mile away. I'm your Grandpa." "Grandpa?? I didn't know I had a Grandpa," replied Joey. "How can you be my Grandpa? You have no stripes." "Well, neither do you, my boy. That's how I know You're my grandson." "Well maybe you could give me some of your black and I'll give you some of my white skin and then we'll both have stripes." "Ha, ha, ha!", Grandpa brayed heartily. "Who needs stripes anyway. We're just fine. It's all those others who are different. Isn't that right Joey?" "For goodness sakes, if it isn't Milton. Where have you come from?", said Miss Zebrette, Joey's teacher, as she and the other zebras gathered around. "Hey Miltie, how y'a doin'? I bet you've got some stories to tell. Look at you. With those scars you must have been through a battle or two. Did you ever learn anything?" said another senior member of the herd. "Learn anything? Humph. Never could remember much. It's the others that need to learn a thing or two. Everyone I met wanted to fight. Couldn't get a long with anyone. Now you, Joey, you're different like me. We can get along just fine." "Milton, don't you go putting ideas in Joey's head. He's a good boy." "I know he's a good boy. He's my Grandson. And we're going to have a real good time together. Isn't that right Joey?"____________________________________________
Grandpa may have ADHD too.
AD/HD is a lifespan difference that affects children, adolescents, and adults of all ages. Research shows that it is 80% genetic. When junior is diagnosed, Mom and Dad look at each other to see where it comes from. While you're at it, have a look at Grandma and Grandpa, they may have it too.
According to the December issue of "Attention" from CHADD "senior citizens with ADHD may be another under-recognized group". So little was known about ADHD at the time they were growing up that Senior citizens are unlikely to have been diagnosed as children I didn't learn abut ADHD until I was 57.
Seniors may have struggled all their active adult lives with undiagnosed ADHD, or they may have developed successful strategies for coping, but ADHD can still aggravate the challenges of later years in two ways. First the normal process of aging brings physical changes that can look like ADHD. Second, life style changes that come with retirement or unemployment may be more difficult with hidden ADHD.
For women menopause brings a sharp decline in estrogen triggering a long list of symptoms like irritability, mood swings, trouble sleeping, fatigue, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, or depression which look like ADHD. Menopause is known to aggravate existing ADHD or reveal borderline or unsuspected ADHD.
Less well known, men may also suffer from what is called male menopause or andropause triggered by declining levels of testosterone the male equivalent of estrogen. The decline of testosterone is less precipitous than estrogen in women, but as the gradual decline continues it may cause men to become distracted, irritable, disorganized, dissatisfied, depressed and suffer loss of libido.
Again the list looks a lot like ADHD. If undiagnosed ADHD is also present the symptoms will probably be more severe and won't respond to traditional treatments.
In addition, men are less comfortable with their bodies than women and are reluctant to admit to feelings that they see as unmanly weaknesses so they resist seeking help. Like Grandpa Milton, they tend to see external forces as the cause of their distress whereas women tend to blame themselves.
When retirement comes or worse yet unemployment, senior citizens lose the structure and social contacts of the work world. Seniors with ADHD may find it difficult to find new activities to structure their lives or to form new relationships. They risk becoming isolated and suffering from loneliness leading to depression .
Quality of life is just as important for seniors as for their children and grand children. When they are healthy in mind and body they can play a valuable role in bringing up the next generation. Depression, irritability, excessive fatigue are no fun for anybody. Don't just dismiss it as old age.
What can you do?
There are many books and internet sites which provide good information about ADHD, depression, anxiety, OCD or other neurological problems that you might suspect.
ADHD often occurs with other conditions as well as aging. General doctors who know about depression may not look for ADHD. It's important that all conditions present are treated.
Exercise is essential to maintain muscle tone and bone structure. Life style changes may very well lead to reduced activity. Finding ways to exercise within their physical capabilities is a must. Getting outside in the fresh air, walking under trees on grass with grandchild is about the best medicine one can find for well being.
With age, the absorption of nutrients declines. Eating a well balanced diet becomes even more important, including appropriate vitamin supplements.
You may very well suspect ADHD in Grandparents because of the chaos, the piles of stuff, paper and old clothes. ADHD is about disorganization. Clutter drains energy. Get help.
Zebra Tips in a nut shell:
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