Seizures can impact the lives of older adults in many way.  Although a typical seizure lasts for about 1 minute, the recovery time from a seizure can be prolonged in older adults and in some instances it can take up to a day or longer to recover.  During this period in which an individual is recovering, one can see side effects such as confusion, tiredness and memory problems.  In individuals with heart or lung conditions, those problems may worsen with recurrent seizures.  There is also a potential for injury with the possibility of bruising or breaking a bone.             

There are also significant social consequences of seizures with the most common relating to driving.  As seen similarly in younger adults, seizures can lead to the loss of driving privileges and a loss of independence.  Currently, six states, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Pennsylvania, now require mandatory reporting of a seizure to their State Motor Vehicle Bureau.  In other states, it is up to the individual physician to report a patient with a seizure.  The loss of driving privileges is as devastating to the older adult as it is to the younger patient.  One may argue that younger patients are more distressed by the loss of the ability to drive but active older patients are equally affected, especially in areas where public transportation is lacking.

Authored by: Joseph Sirven, MD
Reviewed by: Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 7/2013
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