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Are bruises always a sign of elder abuse?

As people age, it's true that they may bruise more easily. The kinds of bumps and scratches you'd ignore and forget about as a teen or young adult become much more obvious over the years. As an elderly person, bruising happens very easily due to thin skin, medications and other causes.

One of the reasons that an elderly person could have bruising is because of nursing home neglect. As someone who has a loved one in a nursing home today, it's easy to write off bruising as marks from them being clumsy or just getting older, but you do need to pay attention to how often they're getting bruises and how those bruises are arranged.

Not all bruising is caused by neglect or elder abuse, but some may be. For example, if your loved one hit their elbow on their side table, they may have some bruising there. It would be normal to see that. On the other hand, if they tell you they hit their elbow but have a bruise that wraps around their arm, then there may be other issues at play.

Accidental bruises do happen in a predictable pattern. For example, someone who uses a walker may have bruising along the bottom of the hands or near the ankles where they'd be more likely to come into contact with the object.

To protect your loved one, remember that bruising that is extreme or unusual should always be examined by a medical provider that you trust. Even if it's not a result of abuse, there could be underlying health issues that do need to be addressed to prevent further bleeding.

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