Nursing Home Justice Blog

What Can Bruising in the Elderly Tell You About Their Nursing Home Care?

Written By:

Attorney Mac Hester

Date Posted:

May 16, 2023

The older nursing home residents get, the more susceptible they are to bruising and other health issues. However, that doesn’t mean bruises are inevitable. They could be a sign of abuse. Knowing the difference between a bruise caused by abuse and one stemming from an underlying health condition or medication is vital to ensure your loved one’s safety.

Is Bruising Always a Sign of Abuse?

While it may alarm you to see bruises on your loved one, it isn’t always a sign of abuse. Elderly nursing home residents and older populations often bruise due to their fragile skin. As you age, your skin becomes thin and has less cushion, making it easier for you to bruise. Light bruising could even occur when staff members assist residents with ordinary activities of daily living.

What Health Conditions & Medications Could Cause Bruising?

Besides their advanced age, nursing home residents can experience health conditions that could make it easier for them to bruise. Furthermore, the medication they take could also result in bruising. These medications and health conditions include the following:

  • Anemia – Conditions that cause low iron levels could hinder your blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout your body.
  • Blood Thinners – Bruising occurs when broken blood vessels under the skin leak. The body’s clotting process helps stop this bleeding. However, blood thinner medications like Aspirin prevent the blood from clotting, resulting in more frequent and significant bruises.
  • Diabetes – High glucose levels reduce your blood flow to your cells and cause bruising.
  • Liver Disease – Your liver helps create proteins that aid the body’s clotting process. A diseased liver could result in frequent, longer-lasting bruising.
  • Over-the-counter Medications – Bruising and bleeding are common side effects of Aleve, Advil, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

When Should You Suspect Abuse Caused Bruises?

While underlying health conditions and medications could cause residents to bruise easier than others, there are still signs that could tell you if the bruising is caused by abuse. A National Institute of Justice study found that 60% of bruises were inflicted while only 14% were accidental.

Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • If your loved one has bruises around their wrists and ankles, this could be a sign of improper use of physical restraints
  • Bruises in the shape of knuckles or fingers could indicate that someone put their hands on your loved one
  • If your loved one can’t put pressure on a bruised area, this could be a sign of a fracture
  • Bruises located on the neck, torso, inner thighs, or buttocks could be a result of physical abuse

Aside from physical evidence that your loved one has been abused, you should also pay attention to how they react when staff members are around. If your loved one’s withdrawn behavior is accompanied by suspicious bruising, it might be time to report abuse.

How Could Nursing Home Negligence Cause Bruising?

 Nursing homes could cause bruising in residents in several ways other than directly punching, kicking, or strangling them.

Overstaffed nursing homes might not provide residents with enough food and water, resulting in vitamin deficiencies that could make residents more prone to bruising. Additionally, a resident’s room should be clear of any obstructions that could cause them to fall. Neglected residents might try to get up to use the restroom and trip over objects scattered around their room.

Proper education, training, and management all play a role in ensuring residents receive the quality care they deserve.

Do You Notice Bruising? Call Nursing Home Justice

If you notice bruising around your loved one’s neck or torso that isn’t a result of an underlying health condition or medication, staff members could be abusing them. You must report the abuse immediately and call Nursing Home Justice today.

During your free consultation, we’ll listen to your story and explain your next steps to ensure all at-fault parties are held accountable for their actions. Contact us at (303) 775-8128 today.

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