Seizures and Seniors
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. 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.
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.
Seizures can increase the risk of falls and secondary to this, other injuries (broken bones, muscular injury, bruising, head trauma). 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 can increase the risk. 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.