Bruising is a sign of…

by Lois Etienne on December 28, 2011

in Senior Health and Safety

You just spent Christmas with your grandmother and you noticed bruises on her arms and legs. She said she’s just clumsy, but you suspect she’s been falling. You know she’s too independent to ask for help.

Bruising is a complicated issue. On one hand, bruising occurs more easily in older people; sometimes (especially with certain medications) bruising can occur without any injury, fall or impact of any kind. So depending on your relationship with your loved on, you may be able to believe her if she says that she’s not falling. On the other hand–and at the other extreme–repeated bruising might indicate either falling or some other form of physical trauma (e.g., physical abuse of some kind, perhaps).

Of course, these two considerations lead to completely different solutions. In the first case, there’s no cause for concern. However, if the bruising is significant she might want to consider medication adjustments. Ask her to consult her doctor. In the second case, intervention is clearly needed. It’s another case where considering the entire context is important. Has the increase in bruising occurred at the same time as some other change in her life? For instance, noticing significant bruising soon after she started working with a new home health care assistant, or after she moved into an assisted living environment, would be a red flag.

Go to for helpful tips on how to communicate with your love ones, not always an easy thing!

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