Study Examines Elderly With Bruises Who May Be Victims of Abuse

A new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society examines bruising in elderly persons as a sign of abuse.

In the study, consenting older adults were examined to document location and size of bruises and assess whether they were inflicted during physical abuse. An expert panel confirmed physical abuse. Findings were compared with results of an earlier study of accidental bruising in older adults.

The participants were sixty-seven adults aged 65 and older reported to Adult Protective Services (APS) for suspected physical elder abuse.

Seventy-two percent of older adults who had been physically abused within 30 days before examination had bruises. The physically abused older adults had significantly larger bruises; more of them knew the cause of their bruises (89.6%) and they were significantly more likely to have bruises on the face, lateral aspect of the right arm and the posterior torso (including back, chest, lumbar, and gluteal regions) than older adults from an earlier study who had not been abused.

The study concluded that bruises that occur as a result of physical elder mistreatment are often large (>5 cm) and on the face, lateral right arm, or posterior torso. Older adults with bruises should be asked about the cause of the bruises to help ascertain whether physical abuse occurred. For more, see the study.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia. 

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