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Beth Janicek
Beth Janicek
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Bruises Can Be a Sign of Elder Abuse

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A new study released this year by the National Institute of Justice regarding bruising can be useful to identify signs of abuse. As people get older they are prone to more falls, so it may be difficult to determine if a bruise is accidental or if it is a case of abuse. The main point of the study was to stress that accidental bruising does not happen on the face, back, neck or torso. They are typically found on the legs and arms.

Another sign of accidental bruising is if they can not remember how they got the bruise. If a person has a story for the bruise, it could be a lie, and someone with an intentional bruise will always have a reason for it being there. A good way to determine if a bruise is from abuse is if the bruise is larger than two inches. The study states that it is no longer safe to judge a bruise by its color, because the color of the bruise does not indicate when the bruise happened.

Susan Sellers, director of Hamlet Senior Center in North Carolina said,

“By law, if we’re aware of anyone being abused we’re supposed to report it to the police and DDS (Department of Social Services). It depends on if it’s self abuse, neglect, abuse by their children or spouse.”

She also said that once in a while, someone will stand out as a potential abuse victim.

“They’re withdrawn, don’t want to get involved, there may even be some drug abuse. We watch, then report if need be.”

In Texas, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (TDADS) was created to administer long-term services and support for people who are aging and who have cognitive and physical disabilities. TDADS can be contacted regarding suspected abuse at 1-800-458-9858, and at 1-800-252-8016 for Nursing Home Information. The Adult Protective Services (APS) Program under the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, is responsible for investigating abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults who are elderly or have disabilities in facilities that include: private homes, adult foster homes, unlicensed room and board, state facilities and community centers that provide mental health and mental retardation services, home health agency staff, exploitation in nursing homes when the alleged perpetrator is someone outside the facility. Abuse can be reported at the Abuse Hotline for APS Facility Investigations at 1-800-647-7418.