Seizures & Seniors

What Causes Epilepsy in Seniors?

Epilepsy affects people of all ages. For seniors in their sixties, seventies, eighties and beyond, age-related issues, use of other medications, and loss of independence can pose additional problems in treatment.

A variety of causes can lead to the diagnosis of seizures in older persons. Some causes for seizures among older individuals include post-stroke seizures, benign or malignant tumors, complications secondary to diabetes, metabolic abnormalities, infections, and cardiovascular events.

Assessing Risks for Seniors Living With Seizures

Seniors who live with epilepsy or seizures face unique challenges to daily life, including a higher risk of falling and unsafe interactions between seizure medication and other medications an individual might be taking.

Fortunately, these major risks can often be avoided with careful planning and medical oversight. Seniors dealing with seizures should consult their doctor about possible interactions between all of their medicines, and should take steps to identify possible risk factors that could lead to falls or other injuries as a result of seizures.

For many, seizures can often be treated quite successfully with anti-seizure medication. A diagnosis of epilepsy later in life does not prevent an otherwise healthy, active senior citizen from living an independent and satisfying life.

Common Symptoms Among Seniors with Epilepsy

For seniors dealing with epilepsy, seizures are usually not life-threatening. However, the extra strain on the heart, the possibility of injury, and the reduced intake of oxygen seniors with epilepsy may experience can increase the risk. 

Symptoms including confusion, trouble speaking, and lapses in time are common in older individuals. Many may think that simply “getting older” is to blame for these changes. However, there may be another explanation — they may have become one of the 300,000 senior citizens in the United States with epilepsy. 

Fortunately for seniors living with seizures, these symptoms can often be treated quite successfully. Even if seizures continue to happen occasionally, they don’t need to prevent an otherwise healthy, active senior citizen from living an independent and satisfying life.

Treatment Options for Seniors Living With Seizures

Having epilepsy later in life can present additional challenges in treatment secondary to age-related changes and the potential interaction of medications.  It is important to work closely with your neurologist or epileptologist to tailor your treatment (anti-seizure medication choice and medication dosing), to your specific health circumstances.

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The Epilepsy Foundation New England is here to serve and assist the epilepsy community. We partner with the Epilepsy Foundation of America to provide access to information, resources, and support for our constituents.