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Epilepsy Seizure Mats for Beds: A Guide for the Elderly

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

Staying safe during the night is always an important consideration when it comes to an older person’s care. That’s partly because health emergencies can happen during the night as well as during the day, but it may be more difficult to get help when carers aren’t around or family and friends are sleeping.

Night-time safety is even more important for older people with epilepsy, as they can experience epileptic seizures while they are sleeping. Fortunately, there is a device specifically designed to be placed in a senior’s bed to detect epileptic seizures during the night and raise the alarm. In this blog post, we’ll discuss these epilepsy seizure mats for beds, how they function, and how they can fit into a 24/7 safety plan for epileptic seizures.

What are night-time epileptic seizures like?

Electrical activity in the brain is normal – that’s what makes our brains work. But when there’s a burst of intense, unusual electrical activity, some of the body’s functions go awry. We call this a seizure.

Different types of epileptic seizure can affect the brain differently. Some affect the whole brain, and some just affect parts of it. A variety of these types of epileptic seizure can happen at night as a nocturnal seizure.

Nocturnal seizures can happen at any time during the night, but they are more likely to happen at either the beginning or end of an older person’s time sleeping. Sometimes older people with epilepsy will have seizures only at night, and sometimes they can happen both during the night and during the day.

Tonic-clonic seizures

One type of night-time epileptic seizure that’s important to mention is a tonic-clonic seizure. This type of seizure involves body stiffness, loss of muscle control and jerking and shaking, and it commonly happens around the time the person is waking up or about to wake up.

An older person who has a tonic-clonic seizure during sleep may not be awakened by it or be aware that they’ve had a seizure. One sign that it has happened may be loss of bladder or bowel control over the night.

Both tonic-clonic seizures and sleep seizures raise the risk of the rare condition SUDEP, or sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. That’s why some people are particularly concerned about making sure tonic-clonic seizures during the night don’t go unnoticed.

An epilepsy mat or seizure mat is usually designed to be placed in the bed to detect the shaking and jerking that comes with a tonic-clonic seizure. Typically, an epilepsy sensor mat will send an alert to a pager that comes with it. This way, a carer can come and ensure the epileptic person is all right and follow proper post-seizure care procedures, including placing the person in the recovery position.

Other types of nocturnal seizures

Elderly people with epilepsy can also experience other kinds of seizures during the night. Sometimes, they may go completely unnoticed. At other times, they may even cause the older person to get up out of bed and wander around in a confused state.

Most epilepsy seizure mats for beds are designed to detect the shaking and jerking that comes with a tonic-clonic seizure, so they may not detect a seizure that doesn’t involve jerking movements.

However, it’s important to note that seizures of any kind during sleep are a problem because they can significantly impact a person’s wellbeing during the day. Crucially, they can cause drowsiness that hinders a person’s ability to go about their daily tasks. In older people, this excessive drowsiness could also raise the risk of dangerous falls.

How to include an epilepsy bed sensor mat in your safety plan for an epileptic senior

If you’re an older person with epilepsy or caring for a senior with epilepsy, then you’ll know that the best way to keep an epileptic elderly person safe is to take advantage of the many different epilepsy supports available – not just one.

That means that many epileptic seniors may use several different epilepsy alarms, devices and lifestyle changes to keep them safe in different contexts and different times of the day.

So, while an epilepsy bed mat can be a great help for an epileptic elderly person experiencing tonic-clonic seizures during the night, it’s also crucial to ensure supports are in place to keep them safe during the day, too.

Fall detection alarms

Of course, you’ll know that tonic-clonic seizures generally cause a person to fall to the ground. An elderly person experiencing another type of seizure, such as a complex partial seizure, may also end up falling due to confusion or wandering. And, as we’ve mentioned, seizures during the night can cause drowsiness during the day, which also increases risks of a fall.

In all of these cases, an automatic fall detection alarm provides peace of mind and protection for seniors. It detects a fall immediately and calls for help without the need for any input at all from the wearer, regardless of whether a tonic-clonic seizure follows the fall or not.

If an older person is using an epilepsy mat in their bed to detect tonic-clonic seizures during the night, then an automatic fall detection alarm could be a great additional support to provide safety during the day.

What if an older person has an epileptic seizure during the night when they’re not in bed, such as if they got up to use the toilet? A fall detection alarm with 24/7 monitoring provides safety during these moments, too.

One-touch alarms

Sometimes, older people with epilepsy will experience “auras,” which are strange sensations that signal to an older person that a seizure such as a tonic-clonic seizure is coming.

As you’d expect, when an elderly person with epilepsy feels an aura, they’ll want to try to call for help before a seizure even starts. That’s where a one-touch personal alarm can assist. These alarms call for help at just the single touch of a button, so there’s no quicker or simpler way to get help fast.

That post-seizure drowsiness and confusion we mentioned can also be a real problem during the day, potentially causing problems or small emergencies. Again, a one-touch alarm can be a huge help here to an older person who’s feeling confused or drowsy and not up to operating a phone.

Protecting older people with epilepsy during the day and night with SureSafe

Keeping an older person with epilepsy safe means thinking about what will happen if a seizure occurs in many different situations. That can require several different alarms and safety measures, including an epilepsy seizure mat for night-time and a personal alarm for the daytime or for moments when a senior is out of bed at night.

SureSafe are specialists in personal alarms for the elderly, providing a wide variety of pendant and wrist alarms with varying functions to suit individual needs. To chat with us more about how a personal alarm could work together with an epilepsy seizure mat to provide protection for you or an elderly loved one with epilepsy, give us a call at 0800 112 3201. Alternatively, get in touch with our expert team through our live chat, or request a call back.

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