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Tips for Caregivers

If you have a loved one with epilepsy for whom you provide care, you know that the right information and treatment plan are important for living life with epilepsy on your own terms.

The following question-and-answer sections are meant to address the topics on caregivers’ minds regarding epilepsy in young adults or the elderly.

Young Adults With Epilepsy

Should my young adult drive?

Every state has its own laws on epilepsy and driving. Most states say that you must be free of seizures for a certain period of time, in most states 6 to 12 months. Check with the Division of Motor Vehicles in your state to find out about your local laws.

Is dating okay?

Many young adults worry that their date will not want to go out with them if they find out about their epilepsy. That could happen. But honesty is always the best policy. It is also a good idea that friends and boyfriends/girlfriends of your young adult know what to expect so they will not be alarmed in the case of a seizure and can help in that event.

Can playing video games cause a seizure?

For most people with epilepsy, the answer is no. But a small number of people can have a seizure when they see flashing lights. Talk to your neurologist or epileptologist for more specifics about your young adult condition.

Elderly Persons With Epilepsy

Is it okay for older people with epilepsy to live alone?

Although there are always exceptions, older people with epilepsy who are otherwise in good health and whose mental abilities are unaffected can usually continue to live independently.

Of course, there are risks associated with seizures when people live alone. However, making certain changes in the home can reduce them.

For example, living in a house or apartment which does not have stairs reduces the risk of injury from falls. Injury from falls is also less likely if the home has carpeted floors, padded furniture, and protective padding around the corners of tables. See Epilepsy in Your Everyday Life for more at-home safety tips.

Someone with fairly frequent seizures may want to carry a portable phone or beeper so that they can call for help from any part of the house.

Some older people living alone prefer to work out a simple code, like a flowerpot in a window, or a shade that is lowered and raised according to a schedule, to let friends and neighbors know that all is well or to alert them if there are problems.

Are older people with epilepsy allowed to drive? Older people with epilepsy whose seizures are fully controlled with epilepsy medication (and who meet other licensing requirements) can qualify to drive in all parts of the United States.

In most states they will have to show that they have met their state’s seizure-free requirements (usually between 3 months and 1 year, depending on the state) and provide any required doctor’s statements to the Department of Motor Vehicles.