Senior Bullying: What You Should Know

Bullying is often associated with childhood and preteen years but unfortunately, it never ends with childhood or preteen age. Some people have confessed to having experienced bullying even in their senior years, which is called “senior bullying”.

It’s important to watch over the senior loved ones because they could be experiencing bullying in silence. Unfortunately, the vice can be committed by anyone, including relatives, caregivers, or people who need unmerited favors from seniors. An elder abuse attorney can help victims of senior abuse get the justice they deserve by holding the perpetrators of this vice accountable.

What is Senior Bullying?

Senior bullying in retirement neighborhoods is a big problem in the U.S, and while it often involves physical aggression, it can extend to psychological or social aggression. But what is bullying? Senior bullying is defined as unwanted verbal or physical aggression towards seniors it can also involve subjecting seniors to threats, false accusations, segregation, and others.

Seniors typically depend on others in assisted-living facilities due to challenges that come with old age and health complications. Loss of independence results in low self-esteem making seniors vulnerable to bullies or predators who may even be relatives or close associates.

Recognizing Senior Bullying

Senior bullying is a form of elder abuse, defined as intentional negligence or acts of caregivers or others who harm adults or expose vulnerable adults to harm. Research shows that 20% of seniors living in seniors’ residences suffer from bullying and mistreatment and the cases are expected to increase as senior living residents become popular.

Perpetrators of senior bullying use perceived power to mistreat their victims just like childhood bullies. This behavior is prevalent in controlled settings where the perpetrators often feel powerless and the only way to reassure themselves is by bullying their peers–bullying can also be a transition adjustment mechanism.

Forms of Senior Bullying

Senior bullying can occur in different forms, such as:

  • Gossiping;
  • Insults or name-calling;
  • Being bossy;
  •  Whispering when the person being bullied enters a room;
  • Making fun of the physically or mentally challenged;
  • Making offensive gestures to a victim;
  •  Invading other people’s personal space.

Most acts of senior bullying occur in shared spaces or common areas like playgrounds, dining halls, and others. Senior bullying can negatively impact the quality of life of your aging loved one if left unchecked.

Effects of Senior Bullying

A recent study indicated that the long-term effects of senior bullying are

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder;
  •  Social isolation;
  • Depression;
  • Increased risks of cognitive deterioration;
  • Increased smoking and alcohol consumption;
  • General health deterioration;
  • Excess or unhealthy eating.

Coping With Senior Bullying in Senior Homes

Coping with senior bullying or elder abuse in senior homes requires a concerted effort from administrators and the victims

Role of Senior Homes Administrators in fighting Senior Bullying

Bullying behavior is repetitive because that’s how bullies derive pleasure, perceived power, and a sense of authority. Senior bullying can result in serious consequences like suicide, particularly when a victim is targeted because of their sexual orientation. An all-around approach that includes rapid intervention, establishing policies & codes of conduct and staff training can help reduce the vice. Other ways of fighting senior bullying in a senior home can include:

  • Promoting a culture of respect towards others;
  • Constant evaluation and adjustment of policies to align with the needs of residents;
  • Putting measures in place for detecting bullying behavior before it becomes uncontrollable;
  • Prohibiting isolation;
  • Encouraging reporting of bullying behavior.

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How can Victims of Senior Bullying Cope?

Caregivers should be in the driver’s seat in fighting senior bullying and they should be proactive by controlling imminent cases of bullying instead of addressing the situation when damage is already done. Ignoring the bully is also a good strategy because most bullies suffer from an inferiority complex and they also like being noticed. Other coping strategies for the victims of senior bullying include:

  • Sharing your opinion with the bully in a calm way to avoid hostility and resentment;
  • Avoid staring at bullies;
  • Never provoke a bully;
  • Maintaining eye contact with a bully; they’ll think you no longer fear them;
  • Try to establish why bullies act the way they do;
  • Avoid being with a bully in isolated places or spaces;
  • Reporting bullies to home administrators or caretakers;
  • Ignoring the bully, particularly when they make offensive remarks or hurl insults;
  • Make friends with influential people who can defend you against bullies.

Bullying behavior should be reported to senior authorities to avoid escalating the situation if the behavior continues. The National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners recommends some resources to help deal with senior bullying. Senior bullying is detrimental to the health of the victims and it can result in serious consequences, such as suicide if left unchecked. Caregivers should ensure all forms of bullying are eliminated to create safer and happier living environments for seniors.