Adults With ADHD at Increased Risk for Developing Dementia


Adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are nearly three times more likely to develop dementia than those without ADHD, according to a new study from Rutgers University.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, was co-authored by Michal Schnaider Beeri, Director of the Herbert and Jacqueline Krieger Klein Alzheimer’s Research Center at Rutgers Brain Health Institute (BHI) in Piscataway, New Jersey. More than three percent of the United States adult population has been diagnosed with ADHD; however, limited research exists on the associated risks. For the investigation, Beeri and his colleagues set out to understand whether ADHD in adulthood impacts the risk of developing dementia later in life.

"By determining if adults with ADHD are at higher risk for dementia and if medications and lifestyle changes can affect risks, the outcomes of this research can be used to better inform caregivers and clinicians," said Beeri.

Researchers used data from a national cohort study of more than 100,000 people who were followed from 2003 to 2020 and compared the prevalence of dementia in adults with and without ADHD. They found that ADHD was associated with a significantly higher risk of dementia even after accounting for other risk factors, such as cardiovascular conditions.

According to the study, ADHD in adults may lessen their ability to compensate for the effects of cognitive decline later in life. Research suggests that treating ADHD with psychostimulants may help slow cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia.

"Physicians, clinicians, and caregivers who work with older adults should monitor ADHD symptoms and associated medications," said Abraham Reichenberg, a professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and senior author of the study.

While these results indicate that ADHD in adults may be a risk factor for dementia, the authors stressed that more research is needed to determine the impacts of ADHD and ADHD medications on cognitive decline later in life.