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...are are the fastest-growing population of people with epilepsy. Three percent of Americans will develop epilepsy by the age of 75.

If you are a senior citizen, you can probably remember a time when there were no reliable treatments for epilepsy. People did not understand why seizures happened and they were afraid of them. You may remember, as a child, that families often sent people with seizures off to institutions, or kept them at home, isolated from others. And you may have heard it whispered (incorrectly) that epilepsy is a form of mental illness.

Things have changed. Today we have a greater understanding of seizures and more options for treating them. We know that epilepsy is not a form or mental illness and that most people with seizures can continue to live productive, independent lives.

Epilepsy in seniors may be caused by many conditions that affect the brain, such as:

  • Stroke
  • Head injuries from falls
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Heart disease
  • Previous brain surgery
  • Infections affecting the brain
  • High blood pressure
  • Brain tumors
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia

Treatment of epilepsy in seniors may be complicated by interactions between anti-epileptic drugs and other medications and by other health conditions. As with all age groups, medication is the most common treatment.

Visit the Epilepsy and Seniors Forum.


Age: 73
Home: Illinois

Q: How long have you had seizures.

A: Since I was a year old. I had surgery when I was 29, and that helped for about 20 years, but then my seizures came back.

Q: What is the most challenging part of having epilepsy.

A: You never know when you're going to have a seizure and what's going to happen to you. I just had one and split my head open when I fell. Sometimes you wake up and you're fine. Sometimes you wake up with nine staples in your head.

Q: What advice do you have for seniors with epilepsy.

A: Take care of yourself. Pay attention to all of your medical needs. The healthier you are, the more control you'll have over your seizures.

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An Independently Incorporated Affiliate of the Epilepsy Foundation of America