Bruises are a common sign of nursing home abuse or neglect. A bruise is a soft tissue injury that causes discoloration of the skin. Bruises are often caused by physical trauma to the discolored region. While some people bruise very easily, others only bruise as a result of serious impact. Bruises can be particularly prevalent among the elderly community, because their aging bodies are not as well equipped to recover from impact as those of young of people. It is important to keep this in mind if you notice that an elderly loved one is exhibiting a few bruises. You should try to distinguish between a onetime bruise and a bruise that indicates foul play, abuse, or neglect.
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Bruises are soft tissue injuries that appear as the result of blood leakage just below the surface of the skin. The medical term for a bruise is a ‘contusion.’ When you bump into a coffee table, or get hit by an elbow during a sporting match you will likely get a bruise. The initial signs of a bruise are localized soreness and redness under the skin. After a few days the red hue then changes into a bluish and black mark as the blood under the skin changes colors. The bruise then starts to fade into a green and yellow mark as healing progresses. Finally, before total healing the bruise will likely appear light brown or yellow.
The most common type of bruise is the subcutaneous bruise, which appears on the skin. The other two types of bruises are rarer and usually require a blunt type of trauma to occur. In a nursing home, these sorts of bruises might result from a serious fall or accident. Bone and muscle bruises can take up to months to heal, while subcutaneous bruises should heal within a few weeks for most patients. If your loved one sustains a serious bruise as a result of a fall or physical treatment in a nursing home you might want to consider if the bruise was the result of an honest accident, or a result of more serious neglect.
Subcutaneous bruises are one of the easiest bodily cues that can be used to spot nursing home abuse or neglect. The elderly are more prone to bruising than others so a single bruise may not indicate abuse or neglect. Older patients are predisposed to bruising because as a person ages his or her skin loses some of the elasticity and padding qualities it used to have. Weaker surface skin can then expose the underlying blood capillaries to trauma injuries quite easily. If you spot a bruise on a loved one, your first step should be to talk with them about how they got the bruise.
Bruising should become more worrisome if you notice a pattern of bruises in the same areas of the body that do not go away over time. Patterns of bruising might be an indication that the nursing home is neglecting or abusing a patient. Bruises could be a result of restraints or improper physical conduct. If you notice a pattern of bruising you should talk with your loved one about what might be causing the injuries and you should also alert care staff about the problem. Keep communication lines open between all parties and monitor for improvement as much as possible. If you feel that your loved one is not receiving appropriate attention for the bruising problem, or if you think the problem is a result of abuse or neglect, you should contact me immediately at (312) 888-8000. I can help you to thoroughly investigate and resolve any case of possible abuse or neglect.