We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Developing epilepsy in later life

Introduction

Epilepsy can begin at any age, but you are more likely to develop epilepsy when you are young or in later life. Around one in every four people who are newly diagnosed with epilepsy is over the age of 65.

Many of the issues that affect people with epilepsy can be the same for anyone, no matter what their age. However, if you are diagnosed with epilepsy in later life, there are some issues that may be of particular interest to you. For example, safety, bone health, driving and memory.

If you have just found out that you have epilepsy, you may need some time to come to terms with it. Having epilepsy can change things. You may have to make some lifestyle changes and it might take time to adjust to these changes.

Epilepsy Action has information about all aspects of epilepsy suitable for all ages. However, if you have been diagnosed with epilepsy in later life, there are some areas of our website that may be especially helpful for you.

Epilepsy Action has information about what epilepsy is, seizuresseizure triggers, seizure diaries and first aid.

What to do if you think you’ve had a seizure

If you think that you’ve had a seizure, the first person to see is your family doctor. If your family doctor thinks you might have epilepsy, they will usually arrange for you to see an epilepsy specialist at the hospital. This is to make sure you get the right diagnosis and have the best treatment for your epilepsy.

Epilepsy Action has information about diagnosing epilepsy.

Treatment

The most common way epilepsy is treated is with epilepsy medicines. Epilepsy medicines do not cure epilepsy, but aim to try and stop seizures happening. You might be worried about taking epilepsy medicines and the side-effects that these medicines might have.

Epilepsy Action has information about treatment.

Living with epilepsy

Getting a diagnosis of epilepsy can change things and you might be worried about how your epilepsy might affect your everyday life. But with the right treatment, you could be one of the seven out of 10 people that could have their seizures fully controlled.

You might worry about losing your independence because of your seizures. It’s likely that you won’t be able to drive for some time. You may have problems with your memory and you may also have concerns about safety in relation to seizures.

Epilepsy Action has information about driving, memory and safety, including some tips about how to adapt to memory problems and how you can live your life as safely and independently as possible.

The Equality Laws

If you have epilepsy you are protected by the equality laws. These laws say that everyone has the right to be treated fairly at work or when using services. Areas of life where the equality laws can help are employment, access to goods facilities and services, education, transport, health and social care.

Epilepsy Action has information about the equality laws.

Help and support

If you need help financially, there is some help and support that some people with epilepsy are entitled to. The help available will depend on what your epilepsy is like and how it affects you.

Epilepsy Action has information about entitlements.

How we can help

You might want to talk to some other people with epilepsy. Epilepsy Action has an extensive network of branches, coffee and chat groups and volunteers throughout the UK. These provide local support to people with epilepsy, their family and friends and carers.

Epilepsy Action has more information about local services.

You may be interested in our online community, forum4e. This is for people with epilepsy and carers of people with epilepsy. Hopefully, you will be able to talk to others in a similar situation.

If you have any further questions about anything to do with epilepsy, contact an adviser on the Epilepsy Helpline. You can also contact your family doctor, epilepsy specialist, or epilepsy specialist nurse.

Pay it forward

This resource is freely available as part of Epilepsy Action’s commitment to improving life for all those affected by epilepsy.

On average it costs £414 to produce an advice and information page – if you have valued using this resource, please text FUTURE to 70500 to donate £3 towards the cost of our future work. Terms and conditions. Thank you

Code: 
B048.03

This webpage is based on a previous Epilepsy Action publication, written with help from the following people:
Professor Raymond Tallis, Visiting Professor at St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London and
Jan Bagshaw, Epilepsy Specialist Nurse, Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Community NHS. 

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated August 2013
    To be reviewed August 2015

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