As individuals age, their skin becomes more susceptible to bruising and discoloration as blood vessels break down and reduced muscle tissue protects skin from shearing over bones. Blood thinners and other medications that are commonly prescribed to elderly individuals can also make them more prone to suffering skin bruises as well. The presence of hematomas on an elderly patient is a significant evidentiary issue in determining is an elderly person has been victimized by elder abuse. The key to this determination is separating accidental bruises from bruises that have been caused by elder abuse.
While a small minority of nursing home patients are non-communicative by way of disease or disability, the reality is that patients reporting abuse incidents would be the easiest route to resolving questions of suspected abuse. However, any individual having spent any time investigating elder abuse claim will remark that seniors, especially those residing in long-term nursing home facilities, are reluctant if not entirely unwilling to discuss a suspected incident of abuse, often minimizing the visible injuries as innocuous accidental bruises. In this sense, for investigators and family members, additional steps must be taken to ascertain the validity of a senior’s explanation of suspicious injuries and bruises.
Certain key findings from research into bruising among elderly populations that have suffered incidents of elder abuse have provided a basis for making this determination. Studies show that accidental bruising occurs in elderly individuals according to predictable patterns, however, and that most of those accidental bruises occur on the hands and feet of the elderly person, with further forensic investigations and experiments later revealing that bruising discoloration patterns in the human skin proceed and present in a relatively predictable pattern.
Moreover, statistically speaking, bruises in the elderly began to exhibit the following numerical patterns and trends, including:
However, a family member or loved one who notices bruises on an elderly relative should not automatically assume that the injuries were caused by staff or caregivers who work at a nursing facility. Bruises on nursing home residents can have accidental causes., as elderly residents always remain more susceptible to bruising regardless of their place of residence. To the extent that bruising is one piece of evidence of nursing home elder abuse, an elderly resident’s family members and loved ones should look for other evidence and common signs of elder abuse, including
Elderly nursing home residents may not be able to communicate the reasons for their bruises, either as a result of dementia or some other physical or mental disorder. Family members may need to be persistent in their sleuthing for the source and causes of bruises. An elder care attorney can often help families to uncover these causes.
Elder abuse is rarely confined to one individual in a nursing home, and as such, there is perhaps a stronger impetus to ensure that persons engaging in elder abuse are removed from the resident population entirely. However, proving elder abuse does require some investigative work, which may include noting that other residents exhibit bruising or similar symptoms giving rise to suspicion in concerned family members. Family members can observe and compare the conditions of other residents with the conditions of their loved ones. Medicare and the US Department of Health and Human Services maintain databases in which violations of federal and state standards for nursing homes are recorded. If a nursing home has experienced multiple complaints relating to bruising of residents, those complaints will be logged into the relevant databases.
Elder care attorneys have access to databases and information about different nursing homes and can provide information from those sources as to the safety and bruise reporting experience of those homes. Those attorneys can also provide information on lawsuits that have been filed and settled with nursing homes, and the nature of that elder abuse claims cases, including whether they included allegations of elder abuse that resulted in bruising injuries. Elder care attorneys can also procure medical records through subpoenas and other document requests to confirm whether a care facility observed bruises or provided any treatment for those bruises.
If the nursing home bruises were reasonably believed to be caused by elder abuse, an elder abuse negligence attorney will file a lawsuit on behalf of an injured party against the caregivers and nursing home facility that are responsible for causing the bruising. Elderly individuals are more susceptible to bruising, but that susceptibility does not excuse a nursing or elder care facility from its obligation to provide services that do not result in bruising injuries. Please contact an elder abuse injury attorney for more information in the event of suspected elder abuse.