When we think of bullying, many times we think of adolescents in middle school and high school. These “Mean Girls” or bullies make life impossible for the victim. There is another demographic that we need to bring attention to in this day and age which it may come to a surprise to you.
Bullying is defined as patterns of deliberately harming and humiliating others. 10 to 20 percent of senior citizens have experienced being bullied by their peers. It happens to both men and women. Senior bullying in a structured environment such as an assisted living or other care facility can make an already stressful transition even harder.
In a community where there are a lot of staff members, there may be a better chance of someone stepping in when a situation arises. Many times, when someone is bullied and there is no one around to witness, an incident could cause someone to be afraid to report such a situation. According to a study conducted at Arizona State University, “this behavior is more common in institutions such as nursing homes, assisted livings where people are forced to not only spend a lot of time together in close proximity but also have to share limited resources such as sofas, games, televisions and particularly staff attention.”
It happens in group activities, at mealtime and even the elevator or simply when someone is just walking down the hall. Just like cliques form in middle school and high school, the same happens in senior living communities and senior groups.
I have personally witnessed this phenomenon for the past 20 years. I’ve seen it in friendly bingo games where someone got angry because a peer didn’t hear the numbers called. I’ve seen women cliques whisper about another peer’s clothing or shoes or the fact that they didn’t have family to visit. I have seen men call other men weak and annoying and be threatened with violence. These incidents are not new, but a new awareness on bullying is a trending issue in our society.
You can help if you see such an action or incident occur. If you see something, say something. Most bullies are most comfortable with their own behaviors when they have power over someone else. Intervention helps weaken and take away the power of a senior who bullies others.
The victim is typically the senior who will need help in that situation, but sometimes the bully is also in need of some help. Perhaps there are emotional situations that they are dealing with that are causing them to display these intimidating behaviors to others. Perhaps it is a sign of cognitive decline that needs its own intervention.
Many assisted livings and care centers have policies in place to protect the person who is being bullied. I urge everyone to lead with kindness in their own day-to-day. If you see a friend or a loved one who may be dealing with someone bullying them, be especially kind to them and assure them that they can report the situation and there are people to listen and assist.
Kindness can make a difference. In the words of Scott Adams, “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness . Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
I am 65 years old I have been bullied since I was in grade school for many years I have tolerated this I would like to find someone to share a little highness
I get it! I have been bullied since I was in like the 4th grade. I’m now in my late 50s & still going through it. I live in a senior community. And I swear some of my neighbors never left jr. high!!! It makes me angry & even breaks my heart. Especially when I see the “mean girls” & their ilk attack some of the most beautifully caring people around. I’ve held more than one person in my arms while they cried from being horribly bullied. It’s so devastating.
Sending you peace & hope
In need of help I am a retired nurse everyday I watch a resident abuse numerous residents.This is independent living She takes over bingo use foul language on daily base it has been reported to the higher managers after 4pm or weekends it is pure hell she has taken over the gazebo which was for smoker no one smoke so she get to sit there by herself when visit comes she does not allow the to sit in there her foul mouth her some don’t participate anything the maintenance man has report it they say she didn’t take her med.This building is run by the Diocese the language is overwhelming what are Seniors to do when Families think we’re safe.
Renee, that sounds like a terrible situation. You ask a great question. Have you been able to speak with the leadership of the building you’re referring to? We’re not sure how we can help, but we hope that things get better.
I am 65 being bullied.
Don’t know what to do.
I live in a 55+ LIHTC Development. It is a form of public housing. The manager is a nasty insecure person. She has little oversight since the management company is far away.
She is in perfect job since she can bully people and feel important and get away with it because if anyone speaks up, they get notes against them from management, suddenly they are doing something wrong. Adult protective services does nothing. there is a general sense of no help in the community. the attorney general in the state won’t do anything unless it is a nursing home. many people here go to nursing homes next. Residents bully just like the leader of the gang in the office, some identify with the aggressor in office.
I am 85 years old. I live at Assisted Living facility in Longview WA. I am being. BULLIED by residents, and Staff included!! It is affecting my health greatly! There are residents here that have priority over my needs. In Longview,WA . I have a just learned hours ago that is not the only facility that has Bullying happening. The group that doing this has around 15, “Christian “ people involved! Longview has around ten large facilities, small group homes. Is this what your family has chosen for Mom or Dad? Welcome to your new home!! OR, the adult bullying playground.