My Wife Thinks I’m Losing It
By: Marty Levine
I learned I had ADHD when I was 85 in 2015. My wife kept complaining that I was losing “it”. She thought I might be developing Alzheimer’s. So, I phoned the Veterans Affairs and told the young lady, “My wife thinks I’m losing it”. They did a CT scan and put me through six hours of testing. That’s how I found out I have ADHD.
It occurred to me I’ve had it all my life. As a child and teenager I had been a “nerve end, hyper, manic-depressive”. I was always thought of as the little guy with the big mouth. I was a poor student and never a team player. My family just accepted my behavior and assumed that I would outgrow it. They said, “Marty is different.”
When I was diagnosed with ADHD it gave me a feeling of being freed. What made me different now had a name.
As I grew older I am more of a loner. I don’t feel a need for social contacts. For most of my adult life I have been self-employed, but when I worked for someone else, I would do my job as if I owned the company I worked for. My employers were always pleased with my work ethic and were not happy when I left.
When I came home from the Korean War I immediately signed up for classes at a local community college. I got a job at Lockheed Aircraft working the swing shift to support myself. I failed miserably at college and knew I’d better get help to figure out what to do to make a living.
That was the first time I asked the VA for help. They sent me for vocational counseling. They determined I had a 99.5% aptitude in business administration and a 98.5% in artistic traits. I went to the library to seek the help of a research librarian. I wanted to find a “depression proof” vocation that fit within my aptitudes. I found that the beauty industry actually grew in the 1930’s and 40’s. I started cosmetology school and knew I was home; this was my profession for life.
Let’s get back to the present…
My wife of sixty years said that I have always been difficult to live with but she noticed a change in me this year. I was becoming more difficult to live with and was having more problems recalling things she told me. It frustrates her if I respond to her complaints in what she calls a childish manner.
I recently had three events in succession that moved me to seek help for the most profound depression I have ever experienced. The first was after I had completed a project I had been working on for eight years and realized I had no one to share it with.
On my 80th birthday I decided to teach myself to play the piano, unfortunately I had trouble with learning and remembering the notes. When I converted the notes to numbers it solved that problem. During the past eight years I have transposed 545 popular songs from musical notes to numbers. The second event was when I realized that I no longer had the stamina to complete my chores in a timely manner. The third and most crushing event was being diagnosed with macular degeneration.
I went to my primary provider who referred me to a counselor which led to a visit with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist would not prescribe medication for an eighty-eight year old man, but he did recommend trying a therapist to help combat the depression.
Now that I’m in the winter of my life and look back, I have to say that I am thankful that I have ADHD. That may sound strange but if it wasn’t for my non-conformity, the driving force that kept me going, I never would have enjoyed the life I’ve had.
Marty – Your story is so honest and compelling. It gives me hope that my striving and life-long learning to understand myself and manage depression and anxiety will not diminish with age. I’ll be working on it until the end. Thank you, Marty.
Thank you so much for your story. I am now 76 years old and did not find out about me ADHD until I was in my 50’s. I also have a problem with my memory and started worrying about it constantly. One day I realized that if I have ADHD, of course I am going to have memory problems. When I finally woke up to that realization I quit going into a panic if I don’t remember a word. My friends that don’t have ADHD also have problems with bringing a words to their mind. I am so thankful that you shared your story.
Hi I’m 76 too, diagnosed with ADHD & dyslexia at 67. It was my husband (now deceased) who discovered my mystery by watching an interview on TV featuring Dr. Gabor’s book “Scattered”. It was then I realized I had been suffering with ADD all my life.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am 41 now and I only recently understood I have Aspergers Autism. I was always wondering why it is so difficult for me to understand others and act in a way that is considered “normal”… now that I know more about my condition, I feel better and even was able to have friendships.
People with ADHD tend to be more creative than those without it, or so I am told. I would bet that a lot of people with ADHD would love to learn to play the piano but do not have the patience or attention span to learn and practice. The numbering system you came up with could easily be an answer for a lot of children. Whether you came up with it yourself or found this process on line somewhere, you really should consider sharing it with others. This would be a tremendous gift to share. The fact that you found this website and were comfortable enough posting tells me that you are at least somewhat comfortable with the internet (a lot of 65+ yr olds don’t even try.) Think about starting your own Youtube channel with the numbering system as your course. And because people with ADHD tend to have a short attention span, you can limit each video to 15-25 minutes long. It’s really a great way to share what you have figured out and now know while giving children (and adults) with ADHD an opportunity to learn to play an instrument but never had the patience to stick with it.
People with ADHD are not necessarily lacking in patience. That can be a symptom, but not always the case. I have ADHD and yet some people have said I have a lot of patience. I was just made aware that I have the disease in the last 2 years. I am 67 now. unfortunately I was not diagnosed until I was 65. You are so correct about the creativity. I was in an engineering office and some of the most difficult calculations I was able to perform because I was able to focus on one issue and that one issue alone. Focus on more that one issue at a time was very problematical for me. Remembering conversations was difficult, so I took notes. I still have problems hearing and understanding speech.
It’s nice to know I’m not alone & there are other old people like me who had undiagnosed ADD. I’m 75 & discovered I have ADD when I was 67. (Treated for depression for 30 years). Also have moderate hearing impairment due to measles in infancy, as well as dyslexia (comprehension impairment). I managed to take piano lessons for 4 years & did okay. I struggled in school but landed a good career with the federal government for 30 years, married a good man at 18, reared 3 kids & now have 7 grandkids. Unfortunately many of them have my genetic flaws, but are doing well. But I am now widowed & am having difficulty managing my life without my husband.
That’s so brave of you to post all of your ADD symptoms. It’s nice to know that we are not alone in it. Not that I want anyone to struggle also. Just nice to hear others stories. I was also diagnosed later. At about 27. It made me sort of happy that what had been making trouble for me all my life had a name. It took my neighbor to diagnose me and my daughter with Tourette’s syndrome. Her son has it. I’ve neever heard of it. I thought it was a nervous habit. Didn’t know why I did those things. Was worried when I noticed my daughter with some of the “tics”. I guess you can say we with ADD are more creative and have a different vibrancy when it come to life. we have a zest ?
I suffer from ADHD and I have been told many times that I am like a great- dane always in your face. That broke my heart, oh others have said we aren’t saying this to hurt your feelings, and we know you don’t mean to be in someone’s personal space but you never take no for an answer with people, and that exhausts people. It is so hard to hear that oh “you don’t have friends because you are really hard to deal with sometimes” I have one personal friend who is 13yrs older than me. He is my best friend and I appreciate all his comments and sometimes it is hard to take when he tells me I am to loud, or I am to manic, or settle down you are just too hyper. I hate being labeled all the time. I think it is very important to talk with someone about your life’s story and have someone you can vent to. Stay strong I know it’s hard but I know you can do it.
I was diagnosed when I was in my 30s . it was good to know why I had problems in school, why my hubby gets frustrated with me etc etc.
Now I’m 68 and I’m still struggling, with everything. By the way, if you tend to lose your keys,wallet, and other critical items, I highly recommend buying a TILE made by Google. You attach these little chips the size of a quarter, to anything you. Routinely lose. If you can’t find the item, use your smartphone to make the little tile play a tune. What if you lose your phone? Press the button on any tile and your phone plays a tune. I probably have 10 tiles now. Best thing I ever did.
Iv had ADHD all my life I’m now 30 years old and I’m having the problems of forgetting and losing concentration to the most important things I’m soon to be a dad to my first baby girl and I’m so afraid of forgetting wat to do if she needs me I’m looking to find a way of helping myself but not sure where to go or how to start
Wow! You came up against some really tough odds but still made it. I’m very impressed. I was diagnosed after I turned 67 and I’m now 69. I’ve been learning what I can and trying to put my life together. It hasn’t helped that we’ve moved three times in the past four years. Now that I’m in my forever home I hope to find my path. I believe it would be a really good thing if there was more focus on the elderly learning they have ADHD late in life.. Doctors and the world at large need to stop writing us off!
I could not find where to reply to Marty. I was also diagnosed at 67, & I thought that was old. I am now 75 & widowed 7 years ago. I’m having difficulty managing my finances & life in general. It helps to have a support group.
I was diagnosed last year at age 70. I’ve felt like a failure ever since I was 19 and flunked out of college, and have been in therapy off and on since my 30s. In recent years I’ve talked with a therapist, two PhD psychologists, and finally a psychiatrist trying to understand why it is so impossible for me to get things done and be reliable with commitments, money, and time. Not a one of them considered ADHD. YouTube turned out to a better diagnostician than the whole bunch, perhaps based on my interest in videos about depression, money management, and organization. It seems shocking that adult ADHD is so invisible to mental health professionals. I’m grateful that my psychiatrist was willing to prescribe meds once I was diagnosed, as I’ve heard that the stimulants aren’t FDA approved for people over 65 since there’s been no research. (After consulting with my cardiologist, she first tried non-stimulant options and has been titrating my Adderal dosage very cautiously.) Now I’m trying to find a coach or counselor who has experience helping people turn things around after a late diagnosis. Suggestions welcome!
I was also diagnosed later in life. alwaysthought i was just stupid. even called a “dumb ass” by family members.felt out of place; like I just didn’t belong I can relate to all of the stories. others ways of coping are just incredable! learned so much just by reading the stories. am hoping to find a support group and other adders to talk with.
Thank you Marty !!!
I also was a cosmetologist, for 40 years. I never did well in school, so I started Beauty School through my high School ROP, Regional Occupational Program my senior year. I never fit in anywhere, but I was extremely social, so It fit me to a tee. Im 60, Ive struggled through a Miserable menopause depression, I decided to research where my left-handedness came from 4 days ago, and was led to look up ADHD, as many Lefties are !!! YAY , Its Me !! Im not totally Crazy. So now starts my discovery Growth journey. (As soon as Im Diagnosed )