Home Instead Blog

Sensitive Conversations: Your Mum has Bruising
Jun 27, 2013

Lately when you’ve been visiting your widowed 83 year old mum, you notice bruises on her arms and legs. She said she’s just clumsy but you suspect she’s been falling. You know she is too independent to ask for help.  How do you find out?

Bruising can be a complicated issue. On the one hand, bruising occurs more easily in older people – and can happen without any injury, fall or impact of any kind – for example, it can be because of certain medication.

Depending on your relationship with your mum, you may be able to believe her if she says she is not falling.  On the other hand, repeated bruising might indicate either falling or some other form of physical trauma (e.g. physical abuse of some kind, perhaps.)

Why not start the conversation like this: “Mum, that’s a nasty looking bruise!  Where did you get that?”  If she gives a generic response such as “I’m just clumsy”, probe with another question.  For instance, “Sure, mum, this whole family is clumsy, but we aren’t all walking around with big bruises on our arms and legs!  So how did it happen?”

Tips on how to start and have this conversation and conversations on a range of other sensitive topics between adult children and their parents can be found in “The 40-70 Rule” - a Guide from Home Instead Senior Care.  The Guide has been developed in co-operation with Jake Harwood, Ph.D., Communication Professor and author from the University of Arizona.

Read the The 40-70 Rule by clicking here.