Bullying Knows No Age Limit

bullyLGBT elders are not the only ones who can meet derision and abuse in elder settings; a growing number of articles are addressing the phenomena of bullying among older adults.

A recent Kansas City Star article (http://www.kansascity.com/2014/02/03/4796201/bullying-knows-no-age-limit-warn.html) estimates that between 10 and 20% “of residents of senior facilities and those who regularly visit senior centers have endured some form of bullying.”  Bullying can include “bossing others around, verbal putdowns, spreading rumors and sometimes physical violence.”  Like its middle- and high-school counterparts, elder bullying can even lead to suicide:  “Last year, a resident of a Kansas City senior housing facility tried to overdose on prescription pills after another resident prevented her from spending time with a sibling who also lived in the facility….”

“Seniors who bully typically have experienced loss, experts say.  They may have recently moved into an assisted living facility or senior apartment building….”  Such moves typically signal a host of losses:  “They are not as valued as much in the community or workplace and maybe not as important in your family system as you used to be,” one expert said.  “That magnitude of loss creates a need to be in control of something.”

FORGE Transgender Aging Network, a member of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, is working on a training that will address bullying and bias in elder settings.  We will post here when the training is available.

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