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Seniors Bullying Seniors – A Growing ProblemAs the number of older adults grows, it appears that bullying among seniors is becominga national problem. When the Akron Beacon Journal hosted a call-in program aboutbullying in northern Ohio, the number of seniors who dialed in revealed the increasingproblem. One older couple said they were trapped in their homes because of harassmentfrom bullying neighbors. A woman in an Arizona who moved into an age-restrictedcommunity stated that she was bullied by other residents who blocked her from sitting atcard tables and at the community pool.Social workers, senior center officials, and others who work with older adults say theproblem of bullying among seniors is becoming more common as the retirementpopulation increases and more seniors enter care homes and retirement communities.While statistics are not formally tracked, it is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of olderadults in senior settings experience some type of abuse from fellow residents.As a geriatric social worker for over 18 years, I have seen bullying firsthand in olderadult communities and at senior centers. It appears the mean kids that were in school are,as we get older, in some cases still around. It is unfortunate that as some adults age, theyfeel more vulnerable. Conversely, while some adjust positively, others may developdestructive behaviors that they take out on their peers in the form of bullying.Many organizations involved with seniors have a “code of conduct” policy that bansyelling, obscene language, and other verbal abuse. Some programs have seniors sign acode of conduct that states that all members will be treated with consideration, respectand recognition of their dignity.Another way to ensure that seniors are not bullied is to convey a clear expectation aboutwhat kind of behavior is appropriate and to display an all-around culture where bullyingis unacceptable. According to the ombudsman coordinator in central Phoenix, ignoringbullies is a good strategy. His staff often coaches older adults on how to handle snubs andaggression by fellow residents. “Sometimes, the best thing to do is just find someoneelse to have a meal with,” he said.When researching communities, be sure to ask if the community has a policy for peer topeer bullying, and if not, encourage them to consider implementing such a policy. Manycompanies, like Always Best Care Senior Services, are dedicated to the principles ofdignity, respect and kindness. If you would like more information on finding a
community that reflects these principles, contact a Care Coordinator at any of theindividually owned and operated Always Best Care Senior Services offices locatedthroughout the country. To find the Always Best Care office nearest you, please visitwww.alwaysbestcare.com.Tonja Edelman, M.S.W.Franchise Operations TrainerAlways Best Care Senior Services