Epilepsy is common in older adults because known risk factors-such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, cerebrovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and neoplasms-increase with age. This study uses the most recent data from the 2010, 2013, and 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to provide updated national estimates of epilepsy prevalence among US adults aged 55?years or older to help guide public health action. We used the following validated surveillance case definition for active epilepsy: adults with self-reported doctor-diagnosed epilepsy or seizure disorder who reported either currently taking medications to treat their epilepsy or seizure disorder or at least one seizure during the past 12?months.
We estimated the prevalence of active epilepsy to be 1.4% (about 529,000) among US adults aged 55-64, 0.9% (225,000) for those aged 65-74, and 1.0% (178,000) for those aged ?75?years. The prevalence of a history of epilepsy and active epilepsy among adults aged 55-64?years was significantly higher than the prevalence in older age groups. Collectively, close to 1 million adults aged 55?years or older reported active epilepsy. Epilepsy stakeholders should ensure that older adults with epilepsy have access to age-appropriate clinical preventive services, chronic disease self-management support, specialty care for epilepsy and other comorbidities, and appropriate community services to promote quality of life.