Optimizing Health Outcomes for Older Adults with Epilepsy
Through a two-year $160,000 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan is implementing a multifaceted project to promote effective detection and management of epilepsy in older adults, in collaboration with the state’s seven adult comprehensive epilepsy centers. Both prevalence and incidence of epilepsy are at their highest in older adults. A number of factors, however, can complicate both diagnosis and treatment, leading to suboptimal outcomes. Seizures in older adults tend to be subtler than in younger adults and have longer recovery times. Common symptoms of epilepsy in older adults, such as minor repetitive movements, periods of confusion and unresponsiveness, and lapses in memory, can easily be confused with other conditions of aging, including dementia, movement disorders, hearing loss, and TIAs. Misdiagnosis is common. If a diagnosis is correctly made, seizures are generally easier to control in older adult-onset epilepsy than in younger adults; however, complex medication regimens, changes in how drugs are metabolized, and increased susceptibility to side effects can negatively impact adherence, overall health, and quality of life.

Through this project, we will work to optimize health outcomes for older adults with epilepsy through the following activities:

  • Implementation and evaluation of a series of quality improvement (QI) interventions through our epilepsy center partners designed to impact the project's four focus areas (early identification and appropriate treatment, identification and management of comorbidities, self-management training and caregiver support, and care coordination)
  • Engagement of other health systems and neurology practices throughout the state in QI efforts based on clinical practice guidelines and findings from initial QI interventions through epilepsy center partners
  • Epilepsy self-management education and support for older adults and caregivers, provided through workshops, individualized consultation, and virtual support groups
  • Public and professional awareness campaign focused on promoting early detection and appropriate care for older adults with epilepsy

The project officially began in February of 2021. Information on educational and support resources for older adults with epilepsy, caregivers, and those who serve them will be added to this webpage soon. If you would like to learn more or get involved in this important initiative, please contact Russ Derry at 248-809-4744.

Project Partners

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of healthcare, with a special focus on children and seniors. You can find more information about the Health Fund at mihealthfund.org.