Epilepsy in later life

Lancet Neurol. 2009 Nov;8(11):1019-30. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(09)70240-6. Epub 2009 Oct 1.


Epilepsy is most likely to develop in later life. The burden of this disorder on health-care resources will rise further as the world's population continues to age. Making a secure diagnosis can be challenging because the clinical manifestations of seizures and the differential diagnoses and causes of epilepsy can be different in older individuals compared with younger individuals. Obtaining a reliable account of the events for accurate assessment is particularly important in guiding the appropriate choice and interpretation of investigations to arrive at the correct diagnosis. In older age, unique pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes occur. The use and selection of antiepileptic drugs is often further complicated by the presence of comorbidities, polypharmacy, and concomitant functional impairment, but there is a paucity of high-level clinical evidence on the effects of these factors as well as on the choice of treatment in the elderly. A comprehensive model of care should combine expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy with effective assessment and management of the psychosocial effects to improve the prognosis in this vulnerable and poorly studied group of patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Aged*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Anticonvulsants