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When bruises are and are not signs of abuse

Few things can rattle you faster than suspected nursing home abuse of an aging parent. After all, you want to do what you can to ensure your parent receives appropriate care. Still, a bruise may or may not be evidence of elder abuse. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elderly individuals tend to bruise easier than their younger counterparts. This is due to a loss of fat under the skin, smaller capillaries and thinner skin. As such, a bruise on your aging mother or father may not be an indicator of a broader problem. It could be, though. How do you know the difference? 

Bruising that typically does not indicate abuse 

Every situation is different. If you think your parent may be the victim of elder abuse, you should work diligently to either confirm or dispel your suspicions. Nevertheless, some types of bruises usually do not indicate abuse. If a bruise is on your loved one’s extremities, such as hands, legs, feet or arms, he or she may have bumped into a stationary object. Also, if your mother or father has bruising near an injection site, such as where a nurse placed an IV, the bruise may not be from nursing home abuse

Bruising that may indicate abuse 

The characteristics of an abuse-related bruise are often easier to identify than those of accidental bruises. If you notice any of the following, your loved one’s bruise may be the result of abuse: 

  •         Bruising to head, neck, ears, genitals, back, buttocks or soles of feet
  •         Large bruises
  •         Patterned bruises
  •         Bruising that accompanies other injuries 

It is important to note that the above characteristics indicate that a bruise may be a sign of abuse. Bruising may occur for innocent reasons that have nothing to do with your loved one’s overall care. 

Advocating for your aging parent’s best interests is important. As such, if you notice bruising that you think may involve abuse, you must try both to uncover mistreatment and to ensure your loved one receives the care needed to thrive.


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