Aging and Epilepsy: A Review of Prevalence, Trends, and Challenges

Nov 24, 2014
Tagged with: Aging and Epilepsy: A Review of Prevalence, Trends, and Challenges

Demographic estimates indicate that the number of people over the age of 65 in the United States will increase to 71.5 million in 2030. [i] Studies indicate that by the age of 75, approximately 10 percent of people will have some type of seizure. [ii]

A review of current research shows that the prevalence of Epilepsy increases with age. Prevalence is the percentage of the population that is affected with a particular disease / disabling condition at a given time. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, “Three percent of the population in the United States develops Epilepsy by the age of 75.” [iii] Epilepsy has been classified as “one of the most common neurological disorders worldwide.” [iv] Nationally, an estimated 555,000 to 570,000 adults over the age of 65 have been diagnosed with Epilepsy. [v]  Several studies show that the incidence of Epilepsy in people over the age of 65 has increased steadily over the last few decades. [vi] Research suggests that men are slightly more likely than women to develop Epilepsy and the incidence is higher among African Americans. [vii]

Research points to an increase in the incidence of seizures beginning after the age of 50. [viii] The incidence of Epilepsy has been documented as “90 per 100,000 in people between the ages of 65 and 69.” [ix] This rises to 150 per 100,000 in people over the age of 80. [x]

It is estimated that 20 to 50 percent of diagnosed Epilepsy is linked to Cerebrovascular Disease (e.g. stroke). Cerebrovascular Disease refers to a group of conditions that affect the circulation of blood to the brain, causing limited or no blood flow to affected areas of the brain. Cerebrovascular Disease has been cited as the most common condition leading to the development of Epilepsy in older adults. [xi] Alzheimer’s Disease has been cited as the second most common cause of seizures in older adults. [xii] Between 10 and 22 percent of people with Alzheimer’s Disease experience seizures. [xiii]

In addition to the identified statistics, research identifies the following risks and challenges for people with Epilepsy over the age of 65 including:

 

  • Osteoporosis,
  • Falls and fractures,
  • Inadequate nutrition, and
  • Mobility Impairments. [xiv]

 

Research identifies the following health promotion and lifestyle management strategies for people over the age of 65 with Epilepsy including:

 

  1. getting sufficient rest,
  2. engaging in healthy eating and maintaining a healthy diet,
  3. managing blood pressure,
  4. engaging in recommended levels of physical activity, http://www.nchpad.org/618/2576/Physical~Activity~Guidelines~for~~Adults~with~Disabilities and
  5. avoiding excess alcohol and any drugs that may interact with medications. [xv]

 

Additional Resources:

 

American Epilepsy Society: https://www.aesnet.org/

 

Epilepsy Foundation: http://www.epilepsy.com/

 

[i] Leppik, I. E., & Birnbaum, A. K. (2010). Epilepsy in the elderly. Annals Of The New York Academy Of Sciences, 1184(1), 208-224. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05113.x

[ii] Epilepsy: an under-diagnosed problem in older adults: up to 10 percent of people will have a seizure by age 75.” Mind, Mood & Memory.

[iii] Aldrich, Nancy. “Epilepsy among Older Adults Underdiagnosed, Undertreated.” Aging Today. American Society on Aging. 2006.

[iv] Kobau, R., Zahran, H., Thurman, D. J., Zack, M. M., Henry, T. R., Schachter, S. C., & Price, P. H. (2008). Epilepsy Surveillance Among Adults — 19 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2005. MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 57(SS-6), 1-20.

[v] Aldrich, Nancy. “Epilepsy among Older Adults Underdiagnosed, Undertreated.” Aging Today. American Society on Aging. 2006.

[vi] Stefan, H 2011, ‘Epilepsy in the elderly: facts and challenges’, Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, vol. 124, no. 4, pp. 223-237. Available from: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.2010.01464.x. [21 November 2014].

[vii] Kobau, R., Zahran, H., Thurman, D. J., Zack, M. M., Henry, T. R., Schachter, S. C., & Price, P. H. (2008). Epilepsy Surveillance Among Adults — 19 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2005. MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 57(SS-6), 1-20.

[viii] Acharya, J. N., & Acharya, V. J. (2014). Epilepsy in the elderly: Special considerations and challenges. Annals Of Indian Academy Of Neurology, 17(S1), S18-S26. doi:10.4103/0972-2327.128645

[ix] Verellen, R. M., & Cavazos, J. E. (2011). Pathophysiological Considerations of Seizures, Epilepsy, and Status Epilepticus in the Elderly. Aging & Disease, 2(4), 278-285.

[x] Verellen, R. M., & Cavazos, J. E. (2011). Pathophysiological Considerations of Seizures, Epilepsy, and Status Epilepticus in the Elderly. Aging & Disease, 2(4), 278-285.

[xi] Luggen, Ann Schmidt. “Epileptic seizures in older adult patients: seizures in the elderly often mimic other conditions, such as transient ischemic attack or dementia. Don’t be fooled into a misdiagnosis.(FEATURE).” Clinical Advisor. Haymarket Media. 2009.

[xii] Luggen, Ann Schmidt. “Epileptic seizures in older adult patients: seizures in the elderly often mimic other conditions, such as transient ischemic attack or dementia. Don’t be fooled into a misdiagnosis.(FEATURE).” Clinical Advisor. Haymarket Media. 2009.

[xiii] Stefan, H. (2011). Epilepsy in the elderly: facts and challenges. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 124(4), 223-237. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0404.2010.01464.x

[xiv] Leppik, I. E., & Birnbaum, A. K. (2010). Epilepsy in the elderly. Annals Of The New York Academy Of Sciences, 1184(1), 208-224. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05113.x

[xv] Luggen, Ann Schmidt. “Epileptic seizures in older adult patients: the conclusion of this two-part report looks into the management and therapeutic options available to clinicians treating this population.(FEATURE).” Clinical Advisor. Haymarket Media. 2009.

Author: Kerry



  • bobl07

    Thank you so much for such juicy information on a topic not that many people are familiar with.