Epilepsy can affect anyone, however, it’s most commonly developed during childhood or in older adults. Adults over the age of 65 are the most at risk category for epilepsy seizures. The question remains though, once developed, will epilepsy get worse with age?
It’s certainly possible that the severity and frequency of seizures can increase as a person gets older. However, it’s also entirely possible that epilepsy can get better with age, whether that’s due to the natural changes in the body during the ageing process or through improved treatment.
Read our post: Is It Possible to Grow Out of Epilepsy?
Adults over the age of 60 may experience an increased risk of seizures, whether they already had epilepsy or have developed it later on in life. Diagnosis can be difficult in older people and is often mistaken for other conditions, such as dementia.
Many people with epilepsy will have their epilepsy controlled and lead normal lives without any change as they get older. There is simply no set prognosis for epilepsy, many peoples experience as they age will vary and this could be dependent on a number of factors.
Finding the best treatment is single-handedly the most important deciding factor to determine whether epilepsy will progress with age. Through treatment, such as anti-seizure medications (ASMs), it’s entirely possible for seizures to be controlled once the right medication is found.
It is possible that as a person with epilepsy gets older that rather than their epilepsy becoming worse, the treatment they are receiving may need to be changed to manage changes in seizure activity. For this reason, it’s important that if you, or someone you know, feels their epilepsy is worsening with time that they speak to their healthcare professional regularly and keep them updated. It may be that the dose or type of medication received needs to be tweaked to ensure that symptoms do not worsen with time.
Another factor can be that as many people get older they become more forgetful. If this happens, it can be easy to forget to take medications or to take them at a consistent time. In this case, it’s important to be as organised as possible and ensure that treatment frequency remains consistent to prevent seizures from increasing in frequency or severity.
Whilst it is possible that epilepsy can get worse with age, it’s certainly not a given. For the majority of people who have noticed seizure activity to change as they get older, it can be as simple as assessing the treatment course they receive. What’s worked previously may not be as effective as the body changes and develops.
If you are reading this and are experiencing worsening seizures as you get older, we urge you to book an appointment with your neurologist or healthcare professional and ensure they are aware of your concerns.