Epilepsy affects senior citizens differently than young people. The symptoms can be different and confused with other conditions. In older adults, seizures often manifest themselves as repeated episodes of dizziness, loss of consciousness, language change or behavioral change. In older adults, epilepsy can cause problems with memory and cognition if left untreated, says Joseph Sirven, M.D., associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz.
CAUSES: In about seven out of 10 people, no cause of epilepsy can be identified. For the remainder, causes can include head injuries or lack of oxygen during birth, lead poisoning, genetic conditions, and infections like meningitis or encephalitis. In old age, epilepsy is more often associated with other conditions like dementia and stroke. Other causes include tumors, cardiovascular events and trauma.
TREATMENT: Unfortunately, treatment of epilepsy in seniors is often more difficult because of age-related issues. One of those is medication interference. Anti-seizure medications may interact with many drugs, and 25 percent of older adults take five or more medications regularly, according to a recent Medco Drug Trends Report. It's important for senior citizens with epilepsy to notify their doctor of all medications they're taking before being prescribed any anti-seizure medication.