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How to Treat Bruising in the Elderly

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

If you’re an older person or have an elderly loved one, you may have noticed that seniors tend to bruise a little more easily. In a previous blog post, we discussed why this bruising can happen.

While bruising in the elderly may be common, it can also be cause for concern at times – and it may be unsightly or distressing to look at too. In this article, we’ll review causes of bruising in seniors and what these bruises can look like. We’ll also explore how to reduce bruising in the elderly and how to prevent a bruise from forming in the first place.

First, an important note

Before we dive into other causes of bruising in the elderly, it’s important to mention that bruises in older people can be signs of elder abuse. You should be alert to any unexplained bruise, but facial bruising of unknown cause may be a noticeable warning sign. If you’re worried about an elderly person’s safety or potential abuse, you can reach out to the charity Hourglass via their website or phone at 0808 808 8141.

Causes of bruising in the elderly

So, why do older people bruise more easily? We explore a few reasons below. However, if you’re concerned about bruising in yourself or an older person, it’s best to check with a medical professional.

Ageing

Firstly, some bruising in the elderly may just be due to natural factors relating to ageing. These are primarily thinning skin, weaker blood vessels and less fat under the skin, all of which add up to less protection against bruises with worse and longer-lasting bruises when they do happen.

This type of bruising in older people is called senile purpura or actinic purpura and often occurs on the face or forearms. Since we use our hands to do so many things, senile purpura also often appears as bruised hands. Elderly people may only need to knock their hand slightly to create a bruise.

Sometimes these marks look like typical bruises, but in other instances they could look a little different. They may appear more like patches that are redder and darker than an elderly person’s usual skin tone.

Blood thinners, steroids, or other medicines

Blood thinners are meant to reduce your blood’s tendency to clot, reducing your risk of strokes and other dangerous cardiovascular conditions. Therefore, they’ll naturally result in increased bruising, which can sometimes be quite severe.

Steroids and other medicines can cause bruising in the elderly too.

Injuries

Older people can have more difficulty with moving around, whether that’s due to muscle weakness, stiffness from arthritis, or other medical conditions. If older people knock their body into furniture accidentally, or trip and suffer a fall, bruises can result.

Medical conditions that need more urgent treatment

Lastly, a tendency to bruise in older people can occur due to more concerning medical conditions. Cancer and illnesses relating to the liver and kidneys are among these conditions – which is why you should check with your GP if you notice bruising and are worried.

How to get rid of bruises in the elderly

How can you treat bruises if they appear?

GPs are best placed to give seniors advice about how to address bruising, as advice may differ based on the cause of bruising. If bruises are caused by medication, a senior’s GP may have advice to give about the medication.

If bruising has been caused by an older person’s injury like a fall, you certainly want to seek medical advice. Your doctor may recommend using a cold pack immediately after the injury – just be sure not to apply ice directly on the skin. Wrap your cold pack in a thin towel instead.

If an older person has senile purpura, they may still want to ask their GP how to get rid of bruises or patches caused by it. Your GP may just advise waiting and getting good nutrition. In some cases, they may suggest medicine to thicken skin and prevent bruising.

Overall, when it comes to bruising in the elderly, there is no easy remedy. However, in the case of senile purpura, the bruises are often not painful, so the problem is only cosmetic. The best plan may be to focus on how to prevent a bruise in future.

How to prevent a bruise in the elderly

If bruising in the elderly is caused by nothing more than natural factors relating to ageing, like thinner skin, you can try to prevent bruising by simply protecting the skin more – for example, by wearing sleeves.

If bruising has happened after an older person’s injury or a fall, then it’s definitely wise to take a look at their home and see how it can be modified to prevent trips or injuries in the future. Some questions to ask include:

  • Can the floor be made more even, less slippery or less cluttered?
  • Can an older person wear indoor shoes that offer more stability?
  • Can grab bars be added in bathroom areas?
  • Can visual problems be addressed to help an older person see obstacles better?

If an older person is at risk of falling or being injured despite these measures due to lack of stability or troubles with walking, it’s also wise to get a personal alarm. That way, if an unavoidable fall or other accident happens, an older person can be assured that help will be called right away.

How SureSafe can help elderly people after falls or injuries

An elderly personal alarm offers peace of mind for seniors, whether they live independently or with a carer. Just as ageing often causes thinner skin and weaker blood vessels that produce bruising, it has other common effects like muscle weakness or impaired eyesight, which can cause falls. What’s more, many common medical conditions in the elderly, ranging from diabetes to epilepsy, can also raise the risk of falls, injuries and medical emergencies.

If a bruising injury or fall has caused a senior to be hesitant about moving around their home, an automatic fall detection alarm can help. This type of alarm automatically senses when an older person has fallen and calls for help all by itself, even if the older person is unconscious.

Likewise, a one-touch alarm can be great for an older person who is on blood thinners due to risks of heart attacks or strokes. If an elderly person feels signs of one of these emergencies, they can simply press a single button to call for help immediately.

As a UK market leader in elderly personal alarms, SureSafe are experts on keeping older people safer through technology. If you’re curious to know which of our affordable and highly-rated alarms would be best for you or an older loved one, just ring us on 0800 112 3201, try our live chat or request a call back.

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