Most people would agree that bullying is a sign of immaturity and cruelty. However, not all individuals change for the better as they grow older. While it should not be happening this late in life, bullying among the elderly is a prevalent issue in nursing homes.
Furthermore, seniors may be especially susceptible to bullying’s negative impacts, such as high feelings of stress, low confidence and mental health decline.
What is bullying like among older adults?
The communal nature of senior communities and the hardships associated with aging may be contributing factors to why bullying occurs.
Cliques may form in senior living communities the same way they do in schools and workplaces with shared spaces. These groups of people eat, workouts and do other social events together.
Many seniors already experience loneliness due to losing touch with friends and family over the years. Being shunned by other residents could amplify these feelings. Moreover, ostracism can make a person feel so unloved and worthless that it may push them to suffer depression or have suicidal thoughts.
Bullying can make a person feel more powerful and in control, something many seniors believe they have lost due to age. Apart from isolating other residents, other bullying behaviors in nursing homes include:
- Verbal or physical abuse
- Destroying property
- Rumor spreading
- Sexual abuse
- Invasion of privacy
It’s a sad reality that many seniors are ill and frail. Undergoing abuse of any kind might have grave repercussions. Because of this, anti-bullying training is being provided to staff and residents at several senior facilities. The goal is to help them identify bullying behavior, report it and perhaps put an end to it.
What can be done to prevent bullying?
Nursing homes may do their part to reduce bullying by enforcing strict zero-tolerance policies. Educating staff and residents about conflict resolution and setting boundaries may help. Additionally, they could encourage staff and residents to report bullying incidents by establishing secure ways to do so.
Bullying is unacceptable behavior. Families and friends of residents who suspect bullying may want help from the facility and its staff. However, if they do nothing to help or protect the victim after receiving reports, legal action may be necessary.