This site is intended for healthcare professionals

Go to /sign-in page

You can view 5 more pages before signing in

Abusive bruises in the elderly population

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Bruises are common in the general elderly population. In spite of them being the most frequent visitors to the doctor's office, clinicians rarely suspect bruising associated with physical elder abuse (1).

  • a 2005 study of accidental elderly bruising revealed that:
    • around 90% accidental bruising in the geriatric population were on extremities
    • around 50% of bruises resolved in less than 6 days (bruise was visible for 4 to 41)
    • colour cannot be used to estimate the age of the bruise
    • multiple bruises were more common in elders who were on anticoagulation medications (1)

The following factors should prompt the clinicians to suspect an abusive aetiology for the bruises:

  • an elder who seems to be more withdrawn than usual
  • a concerned caretaker who refuses to leave the patient alone
  • bruising patterns which cannot be connected to daily activities or routine daily care (2)

Bruises which occur due to physical abuse of the elders are often large (>5 cm) and are present on the face, lateral right arm and posterior torso (1) (3)

Elders with suspected abusive bruises should be inquired about the cause and if the patient fails to mention abuse as the cause question the patient in a more reassuring manner so that the patient feels safe and may reveal a previously unrecognized abusive situation (1) (3).


Related pages

Create an account to add page annotations

Annotations allow you to add information to this page that would be handy to have on hand during a consultation. E.g. a website or number. This information will always show when you visit this page.

The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.


Copyright 2024 Oxbridge Solutions Limited, a subsidiary of OmniaMed Communications Limited. All rights reserved. Any distribution or duplication of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. Oxbridge Solutions receives funding from advertising but maintains editorial independence.