Bullying is not limited to the young
Although most media coverage on the subject of bullying is about middle and high school students, it is also a subject of concern for senior citizens. A gerontology expert at Arizona State University reports that 10% to 20% of residents in senior care homes are mistreated by peers. Professor Robin Bonifas says that amounts to hundreds of thousands of people enduring abuse.
Similar to incidents at school, many incidents of name-calling, bossy behavior, arguments and physical violence go unreported. Adults as well as teenagers find it difficult to step up and say something. As we have espoused in many posts on the subject, bystanders need to stand up instead of stand by when a bullying incident is witnessed. Some adult facilities approach the subject through written agreements with new residents regarding offensive behavior. Much like the student who agrees to follow the rules spelled out in a Student Handbook, seniors agree to being respectful and tolerant of fellow residents.
If you have a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle in an assisted living environment, ask them when you visit if everything is okay with others living there. Report their concerns or complaints to those in charge. Their needs and issues deserve to be addressed. You can become their advocate if they are unable to speak up for themselves.
Have you heard of Adult Protective Services? Probably not. Just like Child Protective Services (CPS) that exists in every state, many states have programs for protection of the elderly. Google the name of your state and “adult protective services” for information. You can also go to the National Adult Protective Services Association website for information.
In March, 2012, a story surfaced about 87 year-old Maria Zuravinski who lives in a senior apartment complex in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2010. Maria was charged with battery on her neighbor, Bernadine Jones who is 71 years-old. Apparently, Bernadine attempted to plant a garden that Maria objected to. Maria spit on her neighbor and hit her with her cane. Maria was taken to court and ordered to stay away from Bernadine and complete anger management classes. Bernadine reports living in fear of Maria and eviction proceedings are pending against Maria. If Maria is evicted from the Marian Apartments, good luck to her future neighbors.