What Causes Unexplained Bruises in Seniors?

Category: Assisted Living | Frequently Asked Questions | Medical Information

You’ve been there and done it; you go to reach for something or change your clothes, and you or someone with you points out a mysterious bruise. You don’t remember bumping into something or hitting an appendage on anything, but somehow you did. Unexplained bruises are common and even more so for the senior population. The question many find themselves asking is, should I be concerned? Haven Health is here to provide you with information on this common occurrence in seniors so you can address the issue.

An elderly woman pulling up her sleeve to show a bruise on her arm.

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When should I worry about a bruise in the elderly? 

When most bruising in older people occurs, there is typically no cause for serious concern. However, there are some situations where investigation and medical treatment may be necessary.


A serious threat that results in bruising in older adults is from a fall. Falls can easily cause significant bruising but also more severe injuries such as head injuries or broken bones.


If unexplained bruising for elderly individuals seems to occur too frequently for comfort, physical abuse may be the culprit. While elderly bruising is common and typically is not the result of anything serious, there are times when unexplained bruising should not be brushed off. If elder abuse is suspected, a call to the adult services hotline is encouraged. Adult services will conduct their own investigation to determine the validity of the suspicion and work toward ensuring the elder’s safety as they do so.

Certain illnesses or conditions

In some cases, unexplained bruising in the elderly can be biological and indicate a more serious underlying condition. Blood clotting disorders or blood diseases are the most common medical conditions that can contribute to unexplained bruising. Some indicators that an underlying illness may be the cause are:

  • Frequent, large bruising
  • Easy bruising and a history of excessive or prolonged bleeding
  • Sudden onset of bruising
  • Family history of easy bruising or bleeding 

If any of these indicators are present, seeking medical attention to address any possible underlying conditions is advisable. 

Why do older people get unexplained bruises?

You may notice that bruising becomes more frequent and easier to obtain as one ages. There are a number of elderly bruising reasons that may be the cause.

Elderly bruising causes:

  • Thinning skin: You may recall when you were younger, you could bump into something or experience a fall but not acquire any bruising. This is because when you are younger, you have a layer of fat that helps prevent bruising. As we age, this fat layer diminishes as the body slows collagen production. This thinning of the skin makes bruising easier and is larger and lasts longer than before.  
  • Medications: Many seniors are on at least one medication. And a great deal is on some form of blood thinner. Medications such as blood thinners can cause seniors to experience more frequent and easier bruising than before. 
  • Routine procedures or daily assistance: Many seniors have a decline in their ability to complete their own daily activities. As such, many rely on a caregiver to assist them in everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, repositioning, and more. These activities can easily result in bruising even when being executed carefully. 
  • Medical procedures: Most can recall a time when they had an IV inserted or a needle inserted for one reason or another. Bruising is typical with these forms of procedures, especially in seniors. 
  • Poor diet or nutrient deficiencies: Nutrient deficiencies can oftentimes cause bruising in the elderly. Those with low vitamin C or iron are more likely to experience bruising, especially if they are not supplementing their diet with these vital nutrients. 
  • Chronic diseases: Diseases such as diabetes, liver disease, or kidney disorders can increase one’s propensity for bruising due to the alteration of the blood’s composition and clotting

What medical condition causes bruising easily?

As we have stated, some medical conditions can cause easy bruising, especially in the elderly population. The most common bruising condition is actinic purpura. This condition results from the reduction in connective tissue and thinning of the skin. This condition leads to bleeding underneath the skin, predominantly on the hands and arms. In addition to the previously mentioned conditions, other medical conditions that can explain bruising include:

  • Hemophilia A
  • Hemophilia B
  • Von Willebrand disease
  • Low platelet count
    • Leukemia
    • Cirrhosis of the liver
    • Aplastic anemia 
    • Myelodysplasia
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
  • Vitamin deficiencies

Why choose Haven Health for your skilled nursing needs?

Focus is on a line of medical professionals smiling at the camera. The first nurse is smiling and the camera goes out of focus the further back the line goes.

Haven Health is a leading skilled nursing provider in the state of Arizona. Our experienced and dedicated team is devoted to providing the highest quality care for you or your loved ones. We strive to ensure all of our residents get the care they need, maintaining their dignity and quality of life while promoting their independence and right to make their own decisions regarding the care they receive.  

Contact Haven Health today and discover why we are a leading skilled nursing provider. 

Unexplained bruising in seniors can be alarming. You may experience anxiety when trying to determine the culprit. However, most bruising in the elderly population is benign, and there is little cause for concern. Bruising typically becomes easier as we age; in circumstances where you may feel a more serious reason, such as an underlying medical condition, it is advisable to seek medical care to determine any illness. If you suspect abuse, contact the appropriate authority immediately to ensure the senior’s safety. Preventative measures can be taken to reduce the risk in situations such as easy bruising.


Easy bruising: Why does it happen? (2023).

Jaliman, D. (2021). Bruises

Jones, J. (2021). What Can Cause You to Bruise Easily?