ADHD Brother, How Do You Deal with It?

Updated on February 20, 2010
K.S. asks from Royal Oak, MI
8 answers

I have an adult 50 something family member that is ADHD not on meds and it causes lots of problems in our family because he can't complete things (although I really think he does want to) he's so scattered and has poor memory.Its very stressful for his wife. He is getting medical help(just started) How do you handle this? I can pass it on to my sister in law.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I have ADHD, and almost 28... I have issues not completing things and for both work and family I know ALOT of people are counting on me to get things done SO I had to step it up. I have 2 celanders & to do lists, one is on the wall at home another in my purse. If I am out and about or at work and someone ask if I could do such and such by this date I write it down right away, then I transfer so they are identical. This helps me remember what I am doing when BUT it also helps me in seeing how busy or free I am so I can say yes or no to something.

This family member has to want to change first but if he wants to there are tons of great books to help ADHD adults to get organied. Organization is key as well as reminders (I put post-it notes EVERYWHERE to remind me of the things I MUST do and put the date when it needs to be done with). My husband smiles/laughs at all the post-it notes and how addicted I am to them but I need them otherwise I would let so many people down.

There is not much you can do unless he askes for some ideas on how to get things done... His wife can have more say and help him with keeping to do lists or going through a calendar each week asking him what he will be doing and if he needs any help with the stuff.

I do not take meds but at least for now I have my ADHD undercontrol enough to function without it... BUT my doctor has told me that with age it will get worse and might need meds (they really do make a differance I took them in high school and part of college). With age ADHD in adults seem to trigger memory loss/forgetfullness much quicker then an adult without ADHD.

Also the stress is killer for someone with ADHD, not completing something, lost of trust with family & at work add even more stress which will trigger even more of the ADHD symptoms and it really snowballs from that and is really hard to get out of without ALOT of help and maybe even meds!

Some books that have helped me:

Stress Can Really Get on Your Nerves! by Trevor Romain & Elizabeth Verdick (this is geared towards young adults but find it very helpful even if not in school any more)

Survivor Personality by Al Siebert

Being the Best by Denis Waitley

Time Management for Unmanageable People by Ann McGee Cooper

You Don't Outgrow It by Marnell L. Hayes, Ed.D

Succeeding Against the Odds: Strategies and Insights from the Learning Disabled by Sally L. Smith

There are many more books out there that are helpful these are just a few that I have the names of.

Support groups are also helpful but I have not gone to one, due to having my ADHD undercontrol and not search one out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Evansville on

who needs to handle it? You or the wife and the brother? If he knows he has it then he needs to talk to someone about getting help for it. If he is not aware of the stress he is causing now would be a good time to have his wife talk to him about it. I am sure it causes him frustration so talking might be just the key to a lot of things. If he is not willing to talk maybe your sil could find a support group for adults with ADD/ADHD and get some help that way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

You sound like a loving and supportive sister. Please do not take this in any negative way.. I have based this on our own situation.

I am married to a man same age as your brother.. My husband has never been willing to take any medication.. His reason is that he does not want to lose his personality and creativity.. I personally do not think this would happen, but I cannot make a grown man do what he does not want to do, so he and I sat down and talked about what drives him crazy and me crazy about his ADHD.. Then we came up with some solutions..

My husband is very creative, intelligent, but there are certain things he and I both know, he will never be good at the biggest one, being on time.. He has no sense of time.. He keeps up with his schedules with his watch, his Blackberry and his pager, his computers.. I am the one that takes over on the weekend to give him a break from that stress. I keep our family calendar in our bathroom. I send him emails to remind him.

He does not finish projects in a timely manner at home. At work he some how can keep it together, so I give him assistance at home. Sometimes, we put a limit on it and then he has to decide if he is going to continue or just get rid of the rest of the project. You should see all of the half done projects.. They are everywhere. I try to help him from volunteering to do a project for someone else, unless the other person is wiling to really work with him, or set a very specific time limit..

The one thing that he cannot stand is his parents or sister making fun of him or always bringing up his differences and his "ADHD".. He remembers always having the family treat him differently or not be understanding. He cannot control this. He even remembers his mother asking a specialist if they though he was "Retarded".. you can imagine how that has affected his self confidence. He feels this is who he is and they have their own issues and he says he would never tell them what he sees as their problems.

I married my husband knowing he had ADHD. It did not matter to me. He is an amazing person, creative, successful and very caring he is one of the best husbands and father I have ever seen.. It is his personality and it is NEVER going to change. I love him just as he is and his biggest cheerleader.

HE and his WIFE need to do something about this.. The rest of you need to not set him up for failure and quit looking at this has some sort of failure. Instead look at his positive traits, love him and accept him. Let him know you accept him for who he is. It is up to him and his wife to set goals. If she feels she need assistance, she needs to go to the doctor or go to a counselor and do this together.



answers from Sacramento on

Refer your sister-in-law to a group called CHADD. It's for families dealing with ADHD and she'll get support from people who know just what she's going through. They have chapters nationwide. She might also read ADDitude magazine, which is also for those dealing with ADHD. There are some great tips for adults there that might help both your brother and his wife.

Is there a reason your brother is not on medication? There is a lot of misinformation out there about ADHD medications, so if it's about the whole "you'll turn into a zombie, with no personality and energy" rumor, then he needs to know the truth. He will be the same person with the same personality and energy, just with the focus of a normal person. The right medication for him will improve his whole world. It can take some trial and error to find the right medication and dosage, but I can't say enough about what it's done for our son. He went from being the "unteachable" child who was kicked out of preschool to winning the school responsibility award in 1st grade. A parent even commented the other day that our son seems so mature and focused!

Good luck! I hope the resources I've mentioned above can help those in your family get the support they need. This is not an easy condition to live with, but there's hope and information out there.



answers from Lansing on


You have gotten a lot of great advice from the other moms. I just wanted to include something that has helped me a lot.

I have not been diagnosed with ADD, but I have a tendancy to get distracted a lot and not finish projects at home. I found a great, free organizing system on-line that you tailor to your own schedule and your own needs. You might want to check out and her control journals.

The control journal is built with baby steps each day, so hopefully he won't get too overwhelmed with the project and not finish. Once the journal is created for his daily life, schedule, and needs he might find that it helps to maintain a daily routine and is a great place to keep lists of on-going projects that need to be completed. Then, he can schedule time every day to spend a few minutes (say 15) to work on those projects while also getting everything else in his life done too.

He may not be interested in using or trying the system, but it might be an idea to show him and let him make the decision on his own.

Good luck.




answers from Detroit on

ADHD can be resolved by diet, supplementation and (this may surprise you) but what he uses to clean his home and wash his clothes.

First protein is very important in leveling out blood sugars. Being aware of he is allergic to foods or ingredients in foods. The list is long but helpful and making slow changes can help him to be a functional man.

If you would like to speak about this, I welcome your call at ###-###-####.

Warm regards,




answers from Houston on

I have been the ADD form of ADHD all my life. I take medication which helps with the day to day (i.e making sure I have ID's and Phone) LOL and helps me to finish large and small tasks. There are many downsides to the medication. It is not a cure it is only a tool that helps with certain symptoms of ADHD.

I am very close with my two sisters and Mom and Dad yet we do not live in the same states. We share our problems with each other but we do not fix them for each other.

My biggest question is why do you hold yourself responsible for managing your brothers to-do's? As far as it being stressful for his wife I understand that and I think you being there for her as a friend is wonderful. Just remember it is her stress, Again your empathy is wonderful but I think trying to "fix" their issues will only lead to your own dissapointment.

If it were me, I would encourage your sister to establish boundaries somewhat like Laurie A has, that will help your SIL to own what she is responsible for and let go of his responsibilities as she cannot control him or his actions.

I hope your family can will understand that fignting his issues by blaming and resenting will only magnify them in your own lifes.

Here is a list of a few books that may help:

Boundries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Towsend

The Mastery of life series by Bill Ferguson

I sincerely hope this helps



answers from Detroit on

Is he taking vitamins? Maybe he has some vitamin or mineral or enzyme deficiency. there are supplements that help memory issues. I would go to Better Health or Whole Foods as they have better quality products than the stuff at CVS.
Also, another thing that stimulates brain function is doing puzzles. I know it sounds weird but using the brain and really thinking does stimulate it. I love, ABSOLUTELY LOVE, Dell brand puzzle magazines. The variety, or pencil puzzles....any of them that have crosswords, krisskross, cryptograms/cryptoquizzes, laddergrams, LOGIC puzzles (now there's a really good one for figuring things out!), etc. Get one yourself, have a brother sister moment and figure them out.
If he's on meds, allow them to make a difference. Support his wife. But again, with meds, the body needs probiotics to maintain healthy levels of necessary bacteria. So encourage good quality vitamins, probiotics, maybe some memory building supplements. And have fun with a Dell mag!

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