Bullying is usually associated with children and young adults, but in reality, senior bullying also happens frequently. In senior living communities where residents are in close proximity with one another, they can form cliques and exert power over others.
In recent years, bullying among senior peer groups is on the rise. As some bullied victims choose to remain silent, there is no real way to find out how significant the problem is. Here are things you need to know about senior bullying so as to take preventive measures or intervene on time.
What Senior Bullying Often Involves
Senior bullying may involve social exclusion, emotional abuse, spreading malicious gossip, disregarding personal boundaries, taking or destroying personal belongings. Sometimes, senior bullying may even take on physical or sexual forms. Bullying happens more easily when residents share the same living spaces and have a lot of access to one another’s resources. The perpetrators of bullying often cause victims to feel ostracized, fearful, and alone. This can have adverse effects on the latter’s physical and mental health.
Common Causes of Bullying Among Seniors
The causes of bullying are multifold. Some seniors may choose to tyrannize others because of aggressive tendencies in their personalities, which does not change when they age, but merely gets carried over to whichever environment they find themselves in. Residing in a senior living community can also add stress to those who feel maladjusted in a collective setting. As such, they end up choosing to take out their unhappiness on those around them, giving them a temporary sense of power and control.
Some seniors also bully others when they experience discomfort in their bodies as a result of aging or declining health. Those with existing medical conditions like dementia, mental disorders, and body aches can become more short-tempered towards others.
Signs Your Senior is a Victim of Bullying
It is not always easy to tell when your senior is being bullied, as individuals can have different reactions to bullying. However, there are telltale signs to look out for. Victims of bullying often exhibit either avoidant or confrontational behavior to deal with the problem. Signs your senior may be a bully victim include:
- Acting out by venting or wanting to leave the community
- Emotional outbursts in the form of indignation, nervousness, sadness, or even urge to take one’s life
- Negative reactions to social activities and communal spaces
- Debilitating mental health
Ways Seniors can Counter Bullying
Victims of bullying tend to become nervous and timid, or are prone to anger themselves. There is no quick solution for bully victims, but here are ways seniors can act to protect themselves:
- Involve a family member during visiting hours to take note of the bullying in action.
- Show the bullies they have no power by not reacting to the intimidation.
- Stay composed and grounded when standing up to bullies instead of mirroring the aggression.
- Look at bullies in their eyes.
While the above are possible indicators of senior bullying, do ensure that you speak to your loved one and the community staff to find out more before intervening.