Epilepsy (or seizure disorder) is a brain disorder that can be characterized by the unpredictable seizures. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder that affects people of all ages, which also affects nearly 1 million US adults aged 55 or above. Despite the high number of Epilepsy patients,. almost half of the seniors who are diagnosed with epilepsy do not know the root cause. This unique scenario can be attributed to having no known causes of epilepsy. However, there are some common risk factors like strokes, brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and the presence of brain tumors.
Symptoms of epilepsy are much more difficult to detect and easily overlooked, as the symptoms can include memory problems and falls that might be misattributed to old age. Although some commonly believed notions of epilepsy may include dramatic scenes of people falling and twitching, these are not the most common symptoms. More common symptoms of seizures may include:
If these symptoms occur often in an individual, it may be signs of a seizure, or even epilepsy. In these cases, it is important to bring them to a health care provider. Most seniors with epilepsy are prescribed the proper medication to mitigate their symptoms, which allows them to perform daily tasks normally without being impaired by seizures.
Most seizures do not require medical attention except for a few exceptions. These exceptions include:
If one of these signs above are shown, call 911 as they would require medical care.
How can you help?
When it comes to attending to seniors who are suffering from epilepsy, there are some things you can do to help:
Avoid the following:
In general, epilepsy is incurable and can only be controlled by Anti-Epileptic Drugs (or AEDs). Thus, treating epilepsy should be seen as a long-term management of seizures. Managing epilepsy can be done through visiting a neurologist, or a pediatrician or pediatric neurologist, they would be able to discuss treatment options that would help you or your loved ones.
In most cases, AEDs are prescribed, or another type of drug that factors in the severity and the type of seizure. If the AEDs are unable to control the seizures, there are other options that can work alongside AEDs. A ketogenic diet which is a high fat, low carbohydrate, controlled protein diet that may help to control seizures. However, it should be only used when two or more medications have not been useful. Also, the ketogenic diet is very specialized, so it is important to for it to be carried out under the care, supervision and guidance of trained medical specialist. To learn more about epilepsy, consult your family physician or find an epilepsy specialist at the epilepsy foundation website