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of everyone affected by epilepsy

'Epilepsy often under diagnosed in older people' – pressure groups

22 March, 2005

Older people have
the highest prevalence of epilepsy of any age group, but the condition
is often unrecognised or improperly treated, according to experts who
addressed a joint conference of US National Council on the Aging (NCOA) and the American Society on Aging.

The
conference was told that in people aged 60 and older, brief gaps in
conversation, periods of confusion, blank stares or being unresponsive
are often chalked up to benign "senior moments." However, these may
actually be signs of epilepsy, which is now, the conference was told,
more prevalent among older Americans than any other age group.

Research
in the United States suggests that older people comprise about 25 per
cent of all those who have epilepsy or experience an unprovoked
seizure, but because epilepsy is more often associated with major
seizures causing convulsions, the more subtle but potentially dangerous
symptoms in older people are often overlooked.

James Firman, president of the NCOA, said:

"Epilepsy
is one of the most often misdiagnosed, mistreated or under- treated
conditions affecting seniors. We believe seniors, their families and
their caregivers need to be more aware of the growing prevalence of
epilepsy in this age group so they can discuss telltale symptoms with
their physicians and, if diagnosed, are better equipped to deal with
it."