Though epilepsy can be problematic for people of any age, it can be especially dangerous for people over 65. In fact, seniors with epilepsy have a mortality rate 2 to 3 times higher than younger adults. Fort Myers home care experts discuss the top 5 causes of epilepsy in the elderly and offer tips on how to help your aging loved one prevent each cause.
Strokes are the most common cause of new-onset epilepsy in seniors. Seizures are most likely to develop during the first year following a stroke and are more common following hemorrhagic strokes than ischemic strokes. Your loved one can reduce his or her risk of strokes by adopting healthy lifestyle habits like quitting smoking, getting exercise, and eating a balanced diet. Your loved one should also talk to a doctor about ways to manage specific health conditions that could increase his or her risk of stroke.
2. Neurodegenerative Diseases
Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders are believed to account for 10 to 20 percent of epilepsy cases in seniors. Alzheimer’s disease causes changes in the brain’s internal structure that can trigger seizures. A healthy lifestyle and keeping socially and intellectually active can help your loved one prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Post-traumatic epilepsy is a significant risk for seniors. Most cases of head injuries in the elderly are the result of falls. You can reduce your loved one’s risk of falls by removing clutter, rugs, and other trip hazards, ensuring adequate lighting, and providing mobility aids when appropriate.
4. Psychiatric Illness
Although the reason for the connection is unclear, there does appear to be a higher incidence of new-onset seizures in seniors with psychiatric conditions. In certain seniors, conditions such as anxiety or depression may occur prior to a diagnosis of epilepsy. If you believe your loved one is experiencing depression, anxiety, or another psychiatric condition, talk to his or her doctor about the appropriate therapy.
5. Other Causes
Although not technically considered epilepsy, acute seizures can occur in seniors as a result of various reversible causes. The most common causes include infections, electrolyte imbalances, and medications. A doctor can help determine if your loved one’s seizures are the result of an underlying medical condition that can be easily treated.
If your loved one needs help managing his or her health to prevent epilepsy and other serious conditions, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of respite and live-in care Fort Myers, FL, seniors can rely on, and we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. For more information on our elder care services, please call 239.449.4701 to speak with one of our knowledgeable Care Managers.