Older Adults

When people in their sixties, seventies or eighties experience unusual feelings — lost time, suspended awareness, confusion, seizures — they may think that simply “getting older” is to blame. However, there may be another explanation — they may have become one of the 300,000 senior citizens in the United States with epilepsy.

Some causes for epilepsy and seizures among older individuals include after-effects of stroke, tumor or cardiovascular events.

Unfortunately, having epilepsy later in life poses additional problems in treatment because of age-related issues and use of other medications. It also increases the risk of falls, broken bones and a loss of independence.

Today, we know that epilepsy is not contagious, not a mental illness, not a symptom of intellectual decline, and certainly not a reason for shame or family embarrassment.

Seizures are usually not life-threatening, although in senior citizens the extra strain on the heart, the possibility of injury and the reduced intake of oxygen may increase the risk. For many, their seizures 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.

Reviewed By:

Epilepsy Foundation Communications
Joseph I. Sirven MD | Patty Osborne Shafer RN, MN

on Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Resources

Epilepsy Centers

Epilepsy centers provide you with a team of specialists to help you diagnose your epilepsy and explore treatment options.

Epilepsy Medication

Find in-depth information on anti-seizure medications so you know what to ask your doctor.

Epilepsy and Seizures 24/7 Helpline

Call our Epilepsy and Seizures 24/7 Helpline and talk with an epilepsy information specialist or submit a question online.

Tools & Forms

Download our seizure tracking app, print out seizure action plans, or explore other educational materials.