Medical Alerts for Seniors with Epilepsy

Medical Alerts for Seniors with Epilepsy

time icon 5 min read update icon Sept. 28, 2019


Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which electrical impulses in the brain become abnormal. Approximately 3.4 million people in the United States live with the condition. Although the cause is often unknown, it is possible to manage the condition and live a full life.

Epilepsy Overview

Epilepsy, also known as a seizure disorder, is characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures that cannot be attributed to another medical condition. It is a condition of the central nervous system in which brain activity becomes abnormal. In most cases, the cause is unknown, but epilepsy may sometimes be caused by an injury to the brain.

There are two major groups of seizures, identified as focal or generalized. Symptoms of a seizure can vary from staring for a short time to twitches in the arms and legs. The length of seizures can also vary from a few seconds to several minutes.

Epilepsy Impairment

Epilepsy can have an impact on all areas of life, including family relationships, work, school and even recreation. Because epileptic seizures can be unpredictable, quality of life, emotional health, safety and productivity can be seriously affected. The burden of not knowing when or if you will become unconscious or lose control of your behavior can disrupt daily plans and activities. Generally, impairment due to epilepsy includes:

  • Loss of consciousness or awareness: Some types of epilepsy can result in loss of consciousness; the inability to respond to your surroundings. Even if the loss is temporary, it can disrupt activities and can be potentially dangerous.
  • Confusion, mental slowness, memory loss, attention problems: Epilepsy patients often complain of cognitive impairment. Consciousness is required to live and perform our daily functions. Its loss can restrict ability to drive, keep a job, keep up with schoolwork and maintain friendships.
  • Inability to control bodily movement: Loss of the ability to control bodily movement can cause embarrassment at the least. If seizures occur in an unsafe place, the risk of serious injury is of more concern.
Medical Alert Benefits

In most cases, basic seizure first aid is all that may be necessary. Most of the symptoms of epilepsy are not life threatening, and do not last a long time. Keeping the person comforted and safe should be the primary concern.

However, there are some situations in which emergency help should be called. They are:

  • If the seizure lasts five minutes or longer
  • If the seizure occurs in water
  • If the seizure causes difficulty breathing
  • If the person has become injured due to the seizure
  • If the person experiences another seizure after the first without being able to regain consciousness between them
  • If the person has epilepsy that is drug-resistant, meaning that the medications they are taking are not sufficiently controlling the seizures. These are known as refractory seizures.

In such cases, having a medical alert device would notify emergency workers quickly and get help to the senior right away. If the person with the seizures is alone, or with only one other person, access to the medical alert device would save time and could possibly save the person’s life.

Safety Without Medical Alerts

Many people with epilepsy live very full lives, and many do so without the advantage of a medical alert device. In cases where the seizures can be predicted by knowing what triggers them, or the seizures are under control with medication, general seizure care is all that is necessary.

General seizure first aid includes keeping the person safe and comforted during the seizure.

  • Make sure someone remains with the person during the seizure
  • Remove objects that can cause injury
  • Take note of the length of the seizure
  • Remain calm and speak reassuringly to the person during and after the seizure, as it can help them recover from the seizure.
Epilepsy Precautions:
  • The best precaution is to have a seizure management plan that the family all agrees upon. That is, take a team approach.
  • Try to identify triggers that may be instigating the seizures, and then pay attention to their occurrences.
  • Take medications on schedule and don’t miss doses.
Epilepsy Medical Alerts Conclusion

A diagnosis of epilepsy can be frightening, and will certainly cause anxiety. The best response to this diagnosis is to learn more about the condition and how it is treated.Learn how best to manage your personal situation and learn how to develop your care team. Teach those in your circle of family and friends how to help you if a seizure occurs while they are with you. 

If the anxiety of not knowing when or if a seizure will occur is not manageable, a medical alert device may be a good idea. This is a safety precaution that may save a life.

Donna McDurfee - Senior Advisor

Donna is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.