Patient & Family Teaching Sheet

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What is a Seizure?

A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain that affects how a person feels or acts for a short time. On rare occasions, a seizure may last for an extended period. Before the onset of some seizures, there may be warning signs; the person may sense that something is wrong (have a strange feeling or tingling). Sometimes, seizures happen with no warnings.

Seizures can affect people in different ways; some may be barely noticed, while others may cause the person to have uncontrolled body movements. Seizure activity may cause the person to fall to the floor or even become unconscious (pass out). After a seizure, the person may be very sleepy. This may last for a few seconds or minutes to hours or days.

There can be many potential causes of seizures based on a person’s medical condition, disease process, prior head injury, infections, medications, or fever. Seeing someone have a seizure can be a frightening experience. Try to remain calm.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

The person having a seizure may have some or none of these signs:

  • Muscle jerking/twitching (convulsion)
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Unable to awaken for a period of time
  • Loss of bladder control (urination)
  • Blurred vision
  • Inability to speak/difficulty talking
  • Eyes rolling back
  • Sudden confusion or memory loss
  • Recurring movements – chewing, lip smacking, clapping
  • Blank staring or blinking

What Can be Done for the Person Having a Seizure?

  • Safety is the first concern
  • Keep the person free from injury – move any objects the person may fall on or bump into.
  • Turn the person on his/her side if vomiting occurs or when the seizure ends.
  • It is important not to restrain the person. Do not attempt to place any objects in the mouth. Do not feed the person until he/she is fully awake/alert.
  • If possible, gently place a pillow under the head for support.
  • Give medications as instructed if the person is awake, alert, and can swallow.

What to Report to the Care Team?

Please call if this was a first seizure, if it was different from a previous seizure, or if the seizure lasted for a prolonged period.

(Please note – it is important to stay with the person during the seizure.)

  • Report any of the above signs or symptoms, what happened during the seizure, what body parts were involved, how long it lasted, and how the person acted after the seizure. For example, did the person lose consciousness, bladder control, or have any body twitching?
  • Report any injury.
  • Report if any prescribed medications have been missed.


Ask the nurse if anything could help lessen or prevent a seizure, such as medication or an activity.

  • Safety is the first concern for the person having the seizur
  • Do not attempt to restrain the person or put any object in his/her mouth.
  • Report as much detail as possible about the seizure incident to the hospice/palliative care t
  • Try to remain calm.