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UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital

Epilepsy and the Elderly

Related Information

Epilepsy and Driving

UW Health's comprehensive epilepsy program at UW Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, offers state-of-the-art care for patients with epilepsy or those suspected of having seizures.


Epilepsy in Older People

  • Epilepsy occurs most often in childhood and again after the age of 60, and in some patients it persists from childhood throughout their entire lives.
  • As people with epilepsy age, the chances of seizures increases. Eighty-five-year-olds are three times as likely to experience seizures as 70-year-olds.
  • The causes  of roughly half of the epilepsy cases in older people cannot be determined. Of those whose cause is known, stroke is the most frequent contributor (33 percent).
  • Other causes include Alzheimer's disease, benign and malignant tumors, head injuries and infection.

Increased Susceptibility to Epilepsy

  • Older people are more likely to develop disorders which may increase the likelihood of seizures, including low blood sugar levels, low sodium levels, diabetes, and thyroid and parathyroid disorders.
  • Older people are also more prone to falls, which can lead to head injuries and make seizures more likely.
  • Activities including hiking, hunting, and sports/exercise are encouraged for older people with epilepsy as long as proper precautions are taken.