View Full Version : Finding out whether my deceased granddad or great granddad had ADHD

07-16-14, 12:05 AM
I'll soon be speaking over the phone with an elderly relative (in his late nineties) for the first time, at the suggestion of my second cousin (who's his niece), about anything he recalls of my grandfather and great grandfather. I have only a few dim memories of my grandfather, who passed away when I was 8, and no memories at all of my great grandfather, because he passed away 7 years before I was born.

I was diagnosed with ADD-I in 2010, while circumstantial evidence based on what scattered details I know of my father's life before I was born, as well as what I witnessed as I was growing up, leads me to believe that he had ADHD (impulsive/hyperactive).

My grandfather was nice enough to me when I was visiting my grandparents, but I don't know anything about his behavior when I wasn't around. My father had a minimum to say about his own father, but that was because he never had any interest in sharing details of family history with me.

I've heard from others, on the other hand, that my great-grandfather had a fiery temper, and found out for myself that he had a succession of businesses as he moved across the country to the West Coast and also that he was the only one among his multiple (12) brothers and sisters that didn't travel back to his hometown in the Midwest to attend the funeral of either his father or mother, who died 31 years apart. He wasn't poor, so that wouldn't have been the reason.

None of this amounts to evidence that either my grandfather or great grandfather had attention deficit disorder of any kind. But there is even less reason to suspect that my father inherited it from my grandmother.

What questions should I ask the elderly relative about my grandfather (who was his uncle) and great grandfather (his own grandfather) that could illuminate whether either of them had ADHD?


07-17-14, 05:20 AM
After my dad passed three years back, I talked to my grandparents (his parents) to find out if he struggled with depression or other things I am struggling with now.

I expected (and also thought to notice) that among people from older generations there is a lot of taboo on 'mental problems'. Elderly people still seem to find it very important to keep up the appearance of health and succes to the outside world. Besides that, there was also less knowledge about these things in the past. The gap of insight in these complex psychological conditions back then seem to have been filled with faith in religion.

So, I would not ask an elderly person bluntly if someone was depressed (asking them to mention faults or deficits). Stay honest, of course, but maybe talk about more positive things things like eccentricity, uniqueness and the type of person someone was. With your own insight in the whole ADHD/ADD thing you should be able to judge if it could be what we now call ADHD/ADD. Stay away from anything medical, unless they start to mention it.