Older adults with ADHD exhibit significant functional impairment, yet there is little research to guide clinicians in evidence-based care of these adults. This study examined response to treatment in older adults who participated in a previous study of the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) in adult ADHD. It was hypothesized that older adults would respond less well to CBT than younger adults, given the cognitive demands of the treatment. As described in the original publication, 88 adults who met DSM-IV criteria for ADHD were randomized to receive either a manualized 12-week CBT group intervention targeting executive dysfunction or a parallel Support group. In the current study, outcomes for 26 adults, aged 50 or older, were compared with those of 55 younger adults with respect to inattentive symptoms assessed on a structured interview by a blind clinician, as well as on ratings by self and/or collateral on measures of attention, executive dysfunction, and comorbidity. Contrary to the hypothesis, older and younger adults were equally responsive to CBT on measures of attention. The older adults also responded as well to Support as to CBT on several outcome measures. The results provide preliminary evidence that CBT is an effective intervention for older adults with ADHD. The unexpected response to support highlights a possible age-specificity of effective therapeutic intervention that requires further investigation.
Keywords: ADHD; Adult; Aged; Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Cognitive therapy; Treatment outcome.