Epilepsy in older people

The problem

There are nearly 12 million people aged 65 and above in the UK. With advances in healthcare and an ageing population, the number of people with epilepsy (PWE) over 65 is likely to keep increasing.

Older people with epilepsy are likely to have complex needs such as other medical conditions, taking several different medications, frailty and social isolation.

Diagnosing epilepsy in older people can be very challenging and sometimes take a long time. For example, they may live alone with no-one to witness the seizures, or mistake seizures for a different condition. However, once a diagnosis has been made, treatment is often effective at controlling seizures.

We wanted to find out more about what can be done to help older people with epilepsy. What can Epilepsy Action do to support geriatricians and healthcare professionals who work with older people? What is best practice and where are the gaps in the UK that need development, either in practice or further research?

What did we do?

At the end of 2019, Epilepsy Action commissioned a team at King’s College London to conduct research.

They are working on a scoping review, the aim of which is to describe what is important for older adults with epilepsy in order to maintain and enhance independence and autonomy. In doing so, they will identify potential gaps in research and practice.

An advisory panel was formed to oversee the report with clinical and community stakeholders. This included geriatricians, neurologists, GPs, stroke physicians, a psychiatrist with special interest in epilepsy, epilepsy nurse specialists from hospital and community settings, a pharmacist, patient and public involvement (PPI) representatives, and representatives from Epilepsy Action. The panel met three times.

The results

Front cover of Older People with Epilepsy report

Here is the final report.

The project team

King’s College London team

  • Professor Leone Ridsdale, Professor of Neurology and General Practice
  • Dr. Gabriella Wojewodka, Research Manager
  • Dr. Alison McKinlay, Postdoctoral Researcher

Epilepsy Action team

  • Angie Pullen, Epilepsy Services Manager
  • Amanda Stoneman, Research and Evaluation Officer

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