At the 41st annual meeting of the Connecticut Coalition on Aging, a panel discussion on "Bullying and the Older Adult" revealed that one in five seniors report being bullied. Panelists Donna Fedus, gerontologist, and Pam Atwood, director of Dementia Care Services for the Hebrew Health Care, said it is important to have a plan in place when an incident, whether verbal or physical, occurs.
First, it's important to note that bullying tends to take place in spaces where older adults spend a lot of time together and have to share resources, notes Retirement Living. Men and women are equally likely to be the bully and the victim, however women are more passive-aggressive and men tend to be more confrontational.
Retirement Living shares these signs of bullying:
- Repetitive, negative behavior towards another person
- Negative behavior occurring over a period of time, typically becoming more extreme
- Behavior which may be consciously or unconsciously committed by the bully
- Behavior which is unsolicited by the victim
- And lasting psychological damage for the victim
SeniorHomes.com lists these suggestions to help combat the problem:
- Set clear expectations and boundaries within the community that make residents and staff aware of your community’s commitment to a safe environment.
- Have ongoing discussions with staff, residents and families to identify potential problems early.
- Evaluate and implement changes that can take power away from bullies. If residents are being isolated in the dining room, for example, eliminate reserved seating.
- Create a clear and easy reporting processes to encourage victims to report bullying, and make it known that there is a no-tolerance policy for bullying. Consider including a standard process for resolving bullying incidents when they are discovered, such as mediation and other tactics.