When you think about senior care centers, you probably imagine a place of camaraderie, where older people get together to make friends and share their interests. Unfortunately, a series of investigations around the country have revealed a dark side to some senior centers and homes: senior bullying. Neighborly Home Care, a trusted provider of in home care services for seniors, wants residents trying to make choices about their loved ones’ care to be wary.
What Is Senior Bullying?
Bullying among older adults is similar to bullying among children or teenagers, and in some social situations, cliques may form among the residents. Typical elderly bullying behavior includes the following:
- Social ostracism
- Rumor mongering
- Verbal or physical assault or abuse
- Invasion of personal space
- Stealing or damaging personal property
- Sexual abuse
As a result, the victims of bullying can feel lonely, intimidated, ignored, or excluded from the rest of the community.
What Causes Bullying Among Seniors?
Bullying, in general, tends to be caused by controlling, aggressive individuals looking to pick on people who seem weak or vulnerable and sometimes can occur in groups. In assisted-living facilities, some seniors may feel frustrated over a lack of control over their own lives and use bullying as an outlet to regain some of that control.
Other times senior bullying is the result of cognitive issues that arise with aging. Seniors who deal with mental illness or diseases such as dementia may exhibit increased aggression, while others who deal with similar issues may be vulnerable to these outbursts.
Dealing With the Problem of Bullying Among Seniors
Recent studies show that roughly 1 in 5 seniors in assisted-living facilities or nursing homes experience some form of unwanted attention or bullying, and the total number of seniors who are victims of bullying may rise as the number of seniors in the United States grows. A San Francisco Chronicle article described senior bullying:
At a senior high-rise, a woman who saw herself as the queen of the parking garage would key the cars of those who crossed her. Elsewhere, laundry rooms became vicious places where the bullied had their detergent stolen and their clothes thrown on the floor. Bingo rooms so often devolved into battlefields — with lucky newcomers badgered and accused of cheating by veteran players — that [the researcher] came to call this “the devil’s game.”
While senior abuse at the hands of younger people is a fairly well-known problem that responsible senior care services attempt to prevent, the issue of seniors bullying seniors is a lot more challenging to deal with. When the seniors themselves are bullying and harassing each other, many staff members overseeing senior centers may feel limited in their ability to deal with bullying.
What You Can Do
When you care for an older family member who regularly attends senior center activities, visit the center for yourself and see what anti-bullying measures the center deploys. A responsible senior center will have staff trained in preventing senior bullying.
Talk to your older loved ones about their experiences at the senior center. Many people -of any age- are ashamed to admit to being bullied if asked directly. Encourage communication about the issue and, of course, also keep an eye out for warning signs of physical or mental abuse, which include the following:
- Changes in general behavior, such as increasing complaints or a sudden desire to leave
- Emotional changes, such as depression, anxiety, fearfulness, or anger
- Social changes, such as reluctance to socialize with others
- Changes in mental health conditions
Home Care Services Can Ensure Your Loved One’s Safety
Our senior caregivers in Philadelphia and Delaware can provide in-home senior care services and support that can keep your older family members away from places where senior bullying is occurring. Neighborly Home Care has staff specifically trained to protect senior citizens, both physically and mentally. Our professionals offer part and full-time home care services, including transportation to and from appointments or other errands.
To learn more about the benefits of senior in-home care services, contact Neighborly Home Care today.
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I just wanted to tell you how grateful we are that Neighborly Home Care stepped in & took over taking care of my Dad when we really needed it, no questions asked. Our caregiver has become part of the family and we know we can depend on her being there every day & taking great care of my Dad. He misses her when she’s not there!