Although there are always exceptions, senior citizens with epilepsy who are otherwise in good health and whose mental abilities are unaffected can usually continue to live independently. Families may find this idea difficult to accept. With the best of intentions, they often become overprotective, making an older relative more dependent than is necessary.

Of course, there are risks associated with seizures when people live alone. However, making certain changes in the home can reduce them. For example, living in a house or apartment which does not have stairs reduces the risk of injury from falls; carpeted floors provide a softer surface; and so does using padded furniture and putting protective padding around the corners of tables.

Technology is also available to help older people with disabilities to keep in touch with family members. From time to time new devices are developed to help people with disabilities handle day to day living. If seizures are fairly frequent, portable phones or beepers provide a way to call for help from any part of the house. Some seniors living alone prefer to work out a simple code, like a flower pot in a window, or a shade that is lowered and raised according to a schedule, to reassure friends and neighbors that all is well or to alert them if there are problems.

Fire, heat, and water are hazards for people of any age who have seizures. That's because people do not feel pain or perceive danger during seizures, and are therefore unable to protect themselves.

For more information, call the Epilepsy Foundation's toll free service at (800) 332-1000.

Reviewed By: 
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Wednesday, March 19, 2014