How Can I Support a Friend or Family Member With Epilepsy This November?
Last updated: November 2023
November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and if you know someone living with epilepsy, this article will give you some practical ways to support a friend or family member living with seizures.
How to support someone with epilepsy
Educate yourself on epilepsy
First, do your part to learn about epilepsy and the many different types of seizures that people can have. This will help you understand that epilepsy can be different for everyone living with a diagnosis.
Understanding the diagnosis can also help you prepare to offer aid in an emergency. A great place to start is the Epilepsy Foundation or Epilepsy Action. And if you are a family member or caregiver, asking for information on what to expect from your medical team is also important.
Ask about seizure action plans
If you are comfortable asking your friend or loved one about their emergency plan for a seizure, have that conversation. This can ease feelings of awkwardness for both of you. It is important to know where any rescue medication is located and when it should be administered during a seizure.
Don't look at them differently
Treat your friend as you would any other friend. Most people living with epilepsy want to live as normal a life as they can, and treating them normally will go a long way at fostering a great friendship.
Be flexible and understanding
Remain flexible with pre-planned activities. Sometimes a seizure can ruin a planned event or night out. Remaining flexible and understanding with your friend if they must cancel will help your friend feel less guilty.
Be a good listener
Learn to listen and not offer advice. Saying nothing is okay. Sometimes people just need to vent their frustrations about living with a condition that makes them feel out of control. When offering a listening ear, it is okay to simply say, "I am here to listen without judgment."
During Epilepsy Awareness Month, you might consider hosting a fundraiser in your loved one's honor, with their permission of course! Funds could be donated to a specific need for your loved one or to epilepsy research through an organization like the Epilepsy Foundation.
And remember to take care of yourself, too
If you are a family member or caregiver of someone with epilepsy, you should also allow yourself to have a break and take care of yourself. It can be stressful to act in an emergency when you least expect it, and you are often on high alert.
Allowing yourself the time to care for yourself will provide you more energy to continue to offer a loving and supportive environment for your family member with epilepsy. Join a support group for caregivers where you can express your emotions and questions with people who understand and listen without judgment.
Supporting our loved ones with epilepsy
Epilepsy can be scary for all involved, but if you are aware of what to expect, you can be a great source of comfort to someone living with seizures. Remember that showing you are interested and care can go a long way.
Is increased screen time a seizure trigger for you?