An elderly personal alarm with automatic fall detection can detect a fall and call for help without you needing to push the button. This is vital is you are unconscious or immobile following a sudden illness or a fall. The call will automatically go through to either your nominated contacts or a SureSafe operator, depending on which service you have chosen. You will be able to get the help you need fast, even if you are unable to press the button.
What Kinds of Epilepsy Alarm Are Available for the Elderly?Article by Daniel Westhead
For older people who’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy, a key part of managing the condition is making lifestyle changes and learning to anticipate seizures. For example, many epilepsy patients notice that certain things, ranging from flashing lights to tiredness, will trigger their seizures – so they’ll modify their behaviour to try to avoid these triggers.
Elderly people with epilepsy whose seizures aren’t well controlled by medication may also avoid certain activities that would be dangerous if a seizure occurs. For example, they might avoid bathing or being in a swimming pool alone.
Another step that many older epilepsy patients take is to invest in technologies that help them manage their epilepsy and its symptoms. That might be a device such as an epilepsy watch, epilepsy monitor or epilepsy alarm. These devices have a range of different functions that can help provide peace of mind to older people with epilepsy. In this article, we’ll discuss how different types of epilepsy watches and epilepsy alarms are designed to help with different support and safety needs.
What is epilepsy?
First, let’s define what we mean by “epilepsy.” It’s a condition of the brain, which operates through electrical activity. Most people are familiar with epilepsy as a condition that causes seizures, which are sudden surges in the brain’s electrical activity.
However, many people might not know that there are different forms of epilepsy, which create different types of seizures. While some seizures are dramatic to see, involving the patient falling to the ground and experiencing uncontrolled jerking movements, other types of epileptic seizures manifest more subtly.
This is why different types of of epilepsy alarm or epilepsy monitor might suit different people.
What can epilepsy alarms and other epilepsy devices do to help older people who have epilepsy?
There are several different kinds of help that devices can provide to epilepsy patients. As we’ve mentioned, the type of seizures a patient most commonly experiences will dictate which type of epilepsy alarm or epilepsy watch is most helpful. There is no one “best device” – it all depends on the patient’s individual needs.
It’s also important to consider an older person’s existing support framework when purchasing a device. Seniors with epilepsy will have different kinds of other support in their lives – some may live entirely independently, while others may benefit from care and help from family. This affects what kind of support or help they’ll need from their chosen device.
So what options are available to an elderly person when it comes to an epilepsy alarm, epilepsy monitor or epilepsy watch?
Taking medication on time is absolutely critical for people with epilepsy. For older epilepsy patients, this can be even more difficult if they also have other medications that may need to be taken at different times.
Apps that provide medication reminders can be a simple but immensely helpful step to keep epilepsy management on course and prevent seizures before they happen. For older people who may not keep their mobile phone with them all the time, a smart watch or personal alarm watch featuring this type of app might be easier to use.
Detection of tonic-clonic seizures
A tonic-clonic seizure is the type of seizure most people have seen in television or movies. The “tonic” part of this name means that the patient’s body will go stiff, and the “clonic” part means that their body will shake and jerk uncontrollably.
It is possible to have just a tonic seizure or a clonic seizure, in which the patient experiences only stiffness or only jerking movements. However, in a tonic-clonic seizure, the patient experiences both stages. The tonic stage comes first, and the patient usually loses consciousness and falls to the floor as the stiffness begins. Then the clonic stage, with its jerking movements, occurs.
A tonic-clonic seizure epilepsy alarm or epilepsy monitor usually works by noticing those repeated strong jerking movements that occur during a tonic-clonic seizure. These can be worn as an epilepsy watch or an epilepsy monitor placed in the bed to notice when a tonic-clonic seizure occurs during sleep.
A crucial thing to remember about this kind of epilepsy alarm is that it’s not designed to detect all types of seizures. There are many kinds of epileptic seizures that don’t involve those strong jerking movements, and for those seizures, a different type of alarm may be needed.
Another important point to note about this type of epilepsy alarm is that tonic-clonic seizures are not the typical type of seizure for older people. In general, epilepsy diagnosis occurs in two different groups – in children and in people aged over 60.
These two groups typically have different types of symptoms. Fewer seniors than young people tend to experience tonic-clonic seizures. The type of seizure most often experienced by older patients is a complex partial seizure, which doesn’t involve strong jerking and shaking movements at all. This is why elderly epilepsy patients who don’t have tonic-clonic seizures are more likely to benefit from one of the device types listed below.
Fall detection alarms
A fall detection alarm automatically senses when its wearer has fallen and sends an alert without the wearer having to do anything. This device can detect a fall due to a tonic-clonic seizure, and it could be useful for many other types of seizure as well.
Complex partial seizures, which are experienced by close to half of elderly epilepsy patients, cause a person to lose their awareness of what they’re doing. This type of seizure typically features random automatic movements such as unbuttoning clothes or moving the arms and mouth. In elderly people, it might just look like a period of staring and unawareness of surroundings.
Complex partial seizures don’t, themselves, cause a fall in the same way that tonic-clonic seizures always involve falling to the ground. However, these random, unaware movements are, obviously, dangerous in their own way and can easily lead to falls. Random arm movements could knock things over, for example. And losing awareness right in the middle of doing something can easily lead to tripping and falling, particularly for an older person who might already have poor balance or difficulty walking due to other medical conditions common in the elderly.
What’s more, epilepsy medications can have side effects like drowsiness or dizziness – which is also a potential path to a fall in an older person. In this case, too, it’s very helpful to know there’s an alarm that will call for help all on its own in case a fall occurs.
Alarms that allow wearers to call for help
Given the seizure symptoms that elderly epilepsy patients are more likely to experience, you might not be surprised to hear that epilepsy in the elderly can be difficult to diagnose because it can be mistaken for dementia or “senior moments.” Actually, confusion and memory problems can also be epilepsy symptoms. Shockingly, while younger people might feel confused for a few minutes after a seizure, older epilepsy patients might feel confused for hours or even days following one.
This is where alarms that allow the wearer to call for help can provide peace of mind. A one-touch personal alarm with a single button that an elderly person can press for help is easier to comprehend during periods of confusion. This also helps prevent an older person from feeling afraid and alone during post-seizure confusion.
What’s more, if a seizure hasn’t led to a fall but has led to some other kind of trouble – let’s say a plate dropped and smashed on the ground – then you might also want to call for help to handle it.
Two strong epilepsy alarm options for older people whose seizures aren’t tonic-clonic
A seizure, such as a complex partial seizure, that causes a lack of awareness and prolonged confusion can be quite frightening, as well as potentially dangerous. But SureSafe offers two options for alarms that combine multiple functions from the above list – automatic fall detection, one-touch calling for help, and even medication reminders.
A wrist alarm like a smart watch
The SureSafeGO Plus Family Monitored wrist alarm is discreet, looking just like a smart watch. When it detects a fall, it automatically calls friends or family – up to five nominated contacts. It allows the wearer to call the same contacts at the touch of a button if needed, and it also comes with an app with medication reminders – thus fulfilling multiple roles in one device. For older epilepsy patients with family close by or in the same home, this can be a great choice when falls, medication-related dizziness or post-seizure confusion are a concern.
A pendant or belt alarm
Another option is the SureSafeGO. This is an easy-to-use, one-button device that can be worn as a pendant or with a belt clip. It also fulfils the automatic call detection and calling for help functions. The difference with this alarm is that it calls SureSafe’s 24/7 response centre when a fall is detected or when the button is pressed. That’s great for elderly epilepsy patients who want to be sure they can get in touch with help right away any time, even at night, or who just don’t have family members close by.
If you’d like to speak with SureSafe experts to learn more about how elderly alarm features can help seniors with epilepsy, give us a call on 0800 112 3201, or try our live chat. You can also ask us to call you back.