Epilepsy is a disorder that has varying degrees of severity. Many people with epilepsy live well, but for others, it may control many aspects of their life. Here are a few of the ways epilepsy can impact someone’s life and how you can best support that person:
- Seizures can cause short-term memory problems. You may find that you need to repeat yourself over and over with someone who has epilepsy. It’s important to remain patient.
- Seizure medications often come with side effects, including drowsiness, inattention, concentration difficulties, and behavior changes. Keep this in mind if you witness someone with epilepsy experiencing any of these symptoms. If someone is suffering from severe side effects, you can encourage them to talk to their doctor.
- Activities of daily living may need to be tweaked depending on the person’s type of seizures, whether or not they live alone, their home set-up, work environment, etc. For example, a person may need to pad sharp corners, use non-slip carpet, avoid scatter rugs, and put barriers in front of fireplaces or hot stoves. See if there are ways you can help them arrange their environment to be safe if they should happen to have a seizure.
- In Missouri and Kansas, if someone has a seizure they lose their driver’s license for six months. So that person would need to arrange an alternate mode of transportation. This can result in feeling guilty due to relying on transportation assistance from others. A person may feel like a burden. You can support that person by offering to drive them to run errands or help them find a carpool or public transportation to get to work or school.
- People with epilepsy are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem. With epilepsy, people lose a sense of control over their life. They can’t control when or where a seizure occurs, and they might be embarrassed for others to witness it. So help give them some control over their lives by avoiding overprotecting them and encouraging independence. Include them in as many activities as possible. Remember that people with epilepsy have a right to an environment where people understand their disorder and where they are accepted and included in all aspects of life.
- People with epilepsy may feel that their condition defines them. Do not use the term “epileptic.” Remember that the person isn’t an “epileptic.” He or she is a person who happens to have epilepsy. Epilepsy is just a part of someone—it does not define them!