You may think of epilepsy as a condition that only affects children. But epilepsy and the seizures that come with it can affect anyone at any age. In fact, recent studies show that epilepsy is actually increasing most rapidly in the United States in those over age 65, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Stroke and dementia are common in seniors and are actually the most common causes of epilepsy in adults.
Don't Mistake the Signs
Epilepsy is often overlooked in people in their 60s, 70s and 80s. The symptoms of epilepsy can be confused with other physical or mental problems that result from the natural aging process.
Convulsions are the symptom most frequently associated with epilepsy, but there are other signs to watch for that can result from seizures. These include episodes of confusion, brief spells of language or behavioral changes, brief dizziness or lapses of awareness.
When It's an Emergency
Though seizures and other symptoms of epilepsy often pass in a few moments or minutes, sometimes seizures can be prolonged. Seizures without convulsions that last longer than 20 minutes are called status epilepticus. People experiencing prolonged seizures may appear to go in and out of a confused state. This is a medical emergency and requires rapid treatment to prevent brain damage.