Managing epilepsy involves more than just managing seizures. While some people may feel that living alone seems overwhelming, they can safely live independently with the correct modifications and tips.
Read on to learn more about living alone with epilepsy.
A common concern for people living with epilepsy is having adverse consequences of an unwitnessed seizure. Many people with the condition live alone and enjoy their independence, but some lifestyle changes can help ensure their safety in case of a seizure.
For example, a person can develop a seizure safety plan and make sure the people in their lives know about seizure first aid. This plan typically includes having a plan for family, friends, and neighbors to be on the lookout for atypical behavior and to call or stop by at scheduled intervals.
Additionally, many alarms and devices are available that help those with epilepsy live alone. These include smartphone apps, personal alarms, fall alarms, and seizure-specific alarms. Some people with epilepsy also find seizure service dogs very helpful.
Small changes in a home environment can significantly reduce the risk of physical injury in the event of a seizure. People with epilepsy can take extra safety precautions by modifying their living space in the following ways:
- padding sharp edges and corners on tables and other furniture
- installing grab bars in the shower
- using a shower chair or stool
- avoiding baths
- avoiding open bodies of water
- avoiding open flames
- using backburners when cooking
- avoiding smoking, if applicable
- avoiding heights and ledges
People may think having a seizure in bed would be quite safe. However, having a seizure while sleeping can be dangerous.
Individuals can take extra safety precautions while they sleep in the following ways:
- Remove sharp and potentially dangerous objects from near the bed or sleeping space.
- Sleep on a bed low to the ground or with the mattress on the floor.
- Pad the floor surrounding the bed.
- Use the least amount of pillows and blankets to avoid trip hazards and suffocation risks.
- Avoid sleeping on the stomach.
- Use an alarm or device made for people with epilepsy.
- Use a seizure service dog if possible.
However, individuals can take steps to manage loneliness and social isolation. They include:
- finding local support through events, fundraisers, and support groups for connecting people with epilepsy
- looking up online resources for support
- asking for help when necessary and accepting it when someone offers it
- finding local services for people with epilepsy, including meal delivery or laundry services
- volunteering with an organization that supports people with epilepsy
- trying a new hobby that involves meeting new people in the community
People looking for support while living independently with epilepsy can call the Epilepsy Foundation’s 24/7 hotline for advice, resources, and guidance.
The best way for someone to help ensure their safety while living alone is to manage their epilepsy. People can do this through self-management skills and avoiding exposure to seizure triggers.
Other self-management tips for people with epilepsy include:
- reducing stress
- getting enough high quality sleep
- getting regular exercise
- avoiding nicotine, if applicable
- avoiding alcohol, if applicable
- learning about the condition
- checking before starting a new medication or supplement
- avoiding switching brands or types of medication without speaking with a doctor
People can also manage and track their seizures with a seizure diary. This should include the following:
- dates and times of seizures
- occurrence during sleep or while awake
- description of seizure type
- events before, during, and after the seizure
- epilepsy medications a person has taken and missed that day, including other medications
- any possible circumstances or triggers people have identified
- a person’s general health leading up to the seizure
- energy level or fatigue on the day of the seizure
- menstrual cycle stage, if applicable
Taking medications as a doctor has prescribed to control seizures is crucial to managing epilepsy. Tips to do this include:
- making it a part of a person’s daily routine
- using a phone alarm as a daily reminder
- using a pillbox or pill organizer
- leaving medications out in a visible location as a reminder
- using a chart or calendar to document when a person has taken a dose
- asking for help from others in the household to provide reminders
People also need to avoid triggers as much as they can. Some possible seizure triggers include:
- sleep deprivation
- time of day
- low blood sugar
- menstrual cycle
People living with epilepsy can live independently with certain lifestyle modifications.
Self-management and tracking triggers can help manage epilepsy, which helps keep people with the condition safer when living independently.
Support is available for those with epilepsy who have difficulties with isolation and loneliness.