Seniors can experience bullying, too

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and while we normally associate bullies with schoolchildren, another group of people affected can be older adults. Bullying is described as long-term aggression based on one person’s power over another. It is more than just a mean name or taking advantage of one situation. It is a chronic, often relentless experience. There are three main categories: verbal, social and physical. Specific examples include:
  • Teasing
  • Taunting
  • Threatening to cause harm
  • Excluding or ostracizing someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public
  • Hitting/kicking or tripping/pushing
  • Spitting
  • Taking or breaking someone’s things
For seniors living in a community among themselves, senior-to-senior bullying can be a major problem. As much as 10-20 percent of seniors have experienced this type of bullying while living in an institutional setting. Senior bullying is often about excluding someone from the group because of some baseless difference perceived—physical ability, cognitive state, etc. This can be particularly damaging to an older person’s well-being since support of friends and family is critical. In fact, many of our customers list friends and neighbors as a contact to be called in an emergency. Caregivers should keep an eye out for how their older loved ones are interacting with others—whether they live a senior home or independently. If you think there might be an issue, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.