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Epilepsy in Older Adults

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What do I need to know about epilepsy in older adults?

Epilepsy often develops in older adults, but the signs are not always easy to recognize. Seizure activity may be mistaken for effects of aging, such as memory problems, confusion, falls, dizziness, and numbness.

What increases the risk for epilepsy in older adults?

What are the signs and symptoms of epilepsy in older adults?

Signs and symptoms of epilepsy depend on the type of seizures a person is having. Contact the person's healthcare provider if you notice any of the following happening more than once or:

How is epilepsy in older adults diagnosed?

Diagnosing epilepsy in an older adult can be difficult. The healthcare provider will ask about medical and family history. The person may also need any of the following:

How is epilepsy treated?

The goal of treatment is to try to stop the seizures completely. Medicines will help control seizures. Medicine may be needed daily to prevent seizures or during a seizure to stop it. Do not let the person stop taking seizure medicine unless directed by his or her healthcare provider.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to help an older adult with epilepsy?

Older adults with epilepsy can continue to live alone if they remain healthy and mentally capable. Here are some things to help an older adult remain independent:

What can an older adult do to prevent a seizure?

The person may not be able to prevent every seizure. The following can help manage triggers that may make a seizure start:

How can others keep an older adult safe during a seizure?

Give the following instructions to the person's family, friends, and coworkers:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I call the person's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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