How to treat and prevent bruising in the elderly

A few bruises here and there are normal, as elderly skin is much more fragile than that of younger individuals.

Residents of elderly care homes are in safe environments surrounded by people who keep a close eye on their safety. However, a few bruises here and there are normal, as elderly skin is much more fragile than that of younger individuals. The skin is much thinner, drier and less elastic, and wounds heal more slowly as we age. Blood vessels underneath the surface of our skin also become more fragile, and certain health conditions, diseases and medications can contribute to a person's risk of bruising. Here's some information as to why bruises occur and how you can prevent and treat them.

The causes behind bruising

According to the NHS, bruises are bluish or purple patches on the skin that show up when blood vessels break or burst underneath. The blood leaks into the tissue under the skin, which is what causes the discolouration. At first, a bruise will feel tender or swollen, but it usually heals itself - fading to a yellow or greenish tint.

Bruises occur often when there's trauma or a blow to the body. They often result from an injury or a fall, or appear when people bump into things. Even doctor visits involving intravenous procedures can result in bruises. For elderly individuals, it usually takes very little force for a bruise to appear.

Treatment and prevention

In most cases, treatment for bruising is minimal. The body normally absorbs the leaked blood and the bruise will go away on its own, but it may take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months for the marks to disappear on senior citizens. It is important to get medical attention in the instance of severe bruising, sudden bruising with no memory of a bump or fall, unusual bleeding somewhere else or bruising more easily after taking a new medication.

If a bruise occurs as the result of a minor bump or fall, putting a cold compress on the area can reduce the bleeding and improve swelling. To prevent bruises in the first place, it's important to keep a tidy living environment free of clutter or furniture that could cause tripping or bumping. A cane or a walker may be helpful for those who have difficulty with balance, and hand rails placed strategically around the living space can ensure stability.

At Sunrise Senior Living, our residential care homes provide a safe, comfortable environment for residents to enjoy. For more information or to find a location near you, please select Contact us at the top of this page. 

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