Bruises occur when an injury causes small blood vessels in the skin to burst. Seniors, who are more likely than the younger population to be taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin, are particularly prone to bruising.
In fact, someone on an anticoagulant should always notify their healthcare provider if they experience a significant fall or injury, since these can cause internal bleeding.
While, otherwise, bruising is seldom a cause for concern, family members and caregivers should be on the lookout if they see a pattern of regular bruising. This pattern may reflect one of two issues:
- The senior may be falling, but not be sharing that information. Because falls are a serious problem in the senior population — and a leading cause of hospitalization and death among the elderly — if a family member or caregiver suspects falling, it should be brought to the attention of a doctor.
- Unfortunately, the issue of senior abuse is a real one. If you notice that a senior in your life has unexplained bruises on their body, it is important to ascertain that they are being treated respectfully and safely by everyone they come in contact with.
Bruising can sometimes indicate medical conditions such as hemophilia, liver problems, broken bones, and certain cancers. Medical attention should be sought for bruising that:
- does not heal, retains the same color, and causes the same amount of pain after several days
- causes numbness, increasing pain, or loss of function
- grows in size over time
- continues to occur in the same area
- does not resolve within two weeks
- occurs on the head or neck
- causes problems with vision
- occurs on the head or trunk, without apparent cause
In general, those who love and care for seniors, particularly seniors who live independently, should always be alert to any changes in the senior’s physical appearance, as well as their emotional and mental state.
Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.
Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.
Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.