Bumps, bruises, and minor injuries are commonplace and happen to us all, presenting in different ways on the surface of the skin. Skin becomes increasingly thinner as a person ages, which makes bruising even more common for elderly people. Skin also becomes more fragile, especially in the hands and arms.
For elderly people, bruising can happen in many ways, such as bumping into things or even dropping an item on themselves. They may not know what caused the bruises, how or when the bruises happened, or even feel any pain or discomfort.
Various medicines that are commonly prescribed to an aging person can also contribute to bruising. Blood thinners like aspirin and warfarin are often prescribed to the elderly. Understanding the side effects of these medications is important when assessing any bruising concerns.
A balanced diet and proper nutrition are important for the elderly to maintain health and strength. A diet lacking in Vitamin C can cause bruising, and an iron-deficient diet can also increase the chances of bruises occurring.
There are many potential causes of bruising for people of any age. When it comes to the elderly, however, bruising could be a sign of a more serious issue.
Bruises and the Elderly
When faced with the overwhelming duties and costs of handling an aging parent or loved one, choosing to place them in the care of others in a home setting or within a nursing home, assisted living facility, or similar care environment can be a helpful and comforting option.
Sadly, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports that between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection. As you consider the care of your aging parent or loved one, it is important to be aware of statistics like these.
There are many signs that may point to potential elder abuse. One of the most recognizable indicators is bruising. Let’s explore some simple science about bruises to understand the different types and causes, as well as some research-based examples of when a bruise could be a red flag.
MedlinePlus—a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world’s largest medical library—defines a bruise as an area of skin discoloration. A bruise occurs when small blood vessels break and leak their content into the soft tissue beneath the skin.
There are three types of bruises:
- Subcutaneous – beneath the skin
- Intramuscular – within the belly of the underlying muscle
- Periosteal – a bone bruise
Bruises present as different colors, beginning with a wide variance of blues to purples, progressing with time to a greenish-yellow tone. As the injury heals, skin once again reverts the person’s natural skin color.
Natural Bruising vs. Red Flags
Perhaps your loved one is behaving differently, or the bruising is in places that don’t add up or make sense. They may seem fearful or uncomfortable in their care environment—or something just feels “off.” When considering the heart-wrenching possibility that your loved one may be the victim of elder mistreatment or abuse, there are certain signs that commonly occur.
According to a study published by the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, bruises that occur as a result of physical elder mistreatment are often large (>5 cm) and are typically located on the face, lateral right arm, or posterior torso (including the back, chest, lumbar, and gluteal regions). These areas of bruising appear significantly more often on abused adults than on adults who were not abused. Being able to recognize the signs of normal bruising compared to bruising that indicates something more sinister is critical to your loved one’s safety.
Protect Your Loved Ones
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of abuse, you can take steps to protect them by ensuring they are not subjected to mistreatment any longer. Get the support you and your loved one deserve by hiring a lawyer who understands the complexities of elder abuse laws and can help you navigate this very emotional and painful experience. A lawyer can support and counsel you in how to remove your loved one from the situation and identify any potential compensation that may be available. Having a lawyer fighting on behalf of your loved one can help secure their safety. Having the right people on your side and obtaining the proof you need to build a case are imperative.
While you and your loved one recover emotionally, you deserve someone who knows the steps needed to fight for proper compensation for the pain and suffering your loved one has experienced and who can remove that burden off your shoulders. If the abuse is taking place in a shared home environment, an order of protection might be needed. An attorney can also move to evict the abuser from the residence.
Action can be taken regardless of the location of the abuse. The individual, the institution, the insurance companies, and anyone potentially at fault will be explored by an attorney to assure your loved one is protected, and all possible compensation is uncovered.
For more information about your options and how your family can recover compensation and peace of mind, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to speak with one of our team members today.