As you age, the incidence and risk of seizures and epilepsy also increase correspondingly. What we know is that the emerging group of epilepsy patients inside of the United States are those over the age of 65 and diagnosing their condition can be particularly challenging. This is because most of these elderly have never experienced epilepsy and only develop epilepsy symptoms during old age. Apart from that, convulsions associated with epilepsy also rarely happen to them.
Symptoms of Epilepsy in the Elderly
Despite it being difficult to diagnose epilepsy in the elderly, there are still toned-down signs and symptoms you can look out for, such as:
- Seeing or hearing things
- Sporadic memory loss
- Suspended awareness
Since these symptoms tend to be more understated and seemingly common in the elderly, they are commonly mistaken to be signs of dementia, depression, or disregarded as part of a normal aging process. The type of epilepsy that the elderly tend to develop is focal epilepsy, where only a small portion of the brain is affected. As such, any seizure activity in the brain would regularly only result in them either being unaware of their surroundings, becoming anxious out of the blue, or simply putting a stop to whatever they’re doing and staring into space. These unusual episodes may also result in them seeing or hearing things, which is what most people will not associate epilepsy or seizures with. As such, caregivers and families of the elderly need to be aware of these symptoms and call qualified medical healthcare professionals to take a closer look should they suspect that their loved ones are experiencing epilepsy episodes. After all, the rate of epilepsy occurring in the elderly over the age of 65 is estimated to be two to three times more as compared to younger adults.
Causes of Epilepsy in the Elderly
Statistics show that approximately half of all seizures that occur in the elderly are due to unknown causes. Amongst those with known causes, the primary condition is due to a stroke. When a person suffers a seizure, it can be seen as a forewarning for potential strokes in the future. Less common causes include trauma, tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, hyponatremia, infection, or alcohol withdrawal.
Managing Epilepsy in the Elderly
Regardless of age, when anyone is diagnosed with epilepsy, it can significantly interrupt an independent lifestyle and even restrict their ability to drive. For the elderly, the risk of them falling over also increases. As such, the key to effectively managing epilepsy in the elderly is more than just ensuring they comply with epilepsy medications, but also that they make changes in their lifestyle to balance their independence as well as their safety. One way you can achieve that is through the independent senior living option available at Aston Gardens at Sun City Center. Not only will your loved ones be able to continue living independently, but 24/7 professional medical care is available to ensure timely intervention should any epilepsy episodes occur.