Senior Bruising (And What To Do About It)

Mar 28, 2016

Senior Bruising (And What To Do About It)

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People of all ages get a bruise from time to time. However, as we age, it becomes easier for the skin to bruise as it becomes thin and less fatty. Often, we don’t remember the culprit for those blue and yellow spots, but those bumps sure are a sign that we aren’t as young as we used to be. 

What to Do About Senior Bruising

Although most bruises are harmless outside of inflicting a general discomfort, an abundance of bruises can indicate a more serious problem that should be discussed with a nurse or physician.

Bruises are nothing more than a common skin injury caused from damaged blood cells beneath the skin. When these blood cells are bumped, the damaged cells collect near the surface and leave discolored markings. A bruise can emerge reddish in color then yellow or green after a few days.

Whether yourself or a loved one is bruising up like a peach, Senior Caring is here to answer all questions about bruising.

Why is Bruising Common Among Older Adults?

Our skin is covered in tiny capillaries, and when these surface blood vessels are bumped too hard, the blood leaks out of the vessels and forms a black and blue mark. It is only when the body reabsorbs the blood that those less than pretty blue and yellow marks disappear. Also to keep in mind, as we age, our skin becomes thinner, and as it thins, some of the protective fatty layer is lost, leaving little to no cushion for our blood vessels.

What Else Causes Bruising?

Various medications, such as Asprin, anticoagulants, and anti-platelet agents, reduce the body’s ability to clot blood. As a result of this side effect, bleeding from capillary damage takes longer than usual to clot, which also explains why it may take longer for a bruise to disappear as we age. There are also various dietary supplements, such as fish oil and ginkgo, that can also increase the risk of bruising. Medications for allergies, asthma, and eczema (such as topical and systemic corticosteroids) can also thin the skin, making it easier to bruise.

When is Bruising Something More Serious?

A bruise here and there never severely hurt anyone, however, easy bruising can sometimes indicate a serious underlying condition, such as a blood disorder or problem clotting blood. Use serious judgment in these instances, for it is much better to air on the side of caution and catch a problem early before it progresses into something more serious.

Consult a Doctor When:

  • Large bruises are frequent, especially if bruises appear on the back or face
  • Bruising is excessive and there is a history of significant bleeding during surgical procedures
  • Sudden bruising occurs after staring a new medication of supplement
  • The bruise is painful
  • Bruises are accompanied by nosebleeds or bleeding gums
  • A bruise may indicate signs of elder abuse

How to Prevent and Treat Bruising

  • Ice the area ASAP, and elevate the area if possible
  • Avoid clutter that can be bumped into
  • Wear additional layers of clothing for protection
  • Use a flashlight when walking around dark places

Since there is no medical treatment for a bruise, the best the doctor can ask of patients are icing and heating the area, and taking an over the counter medication such as acetaminophen. Typically, a bruise takes two weeks to disappear, so relax…the bruise will disappear as quickly as it came.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where does elder abuse occur the most?

Surprisingly, almost 90% of elder abuse occurs at home, so it’s important to monitor who is spending time with your elder, especially if you see signs of abuse. If you think your loved one is being abused at home while you are away or at their senior living community then contact your state elder abuse hotline.

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Who are usually the elder abuse offenders?

Elder abuse offenders can be family members, friends, neighbors, service providers, professionals, or strangers. However, 90 percent of abusers are family members which may include adult children, spouses, or partners. If you are concerned that an elder you know is being abused, find your state elder abuse hotline. If it is an emergency, call 911.

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