We've all heard about bullying before. Typically we think of bullying as a children's issue. Anyone who has gone to school knows how mean some kids can be. There is a new bully on the block however, and it's not a child, it's a senior.
Senior bullying is apparently on the rise in senior housing and senior centers across the nation. There are cliques of seniors who exclude, shun, and taunt other seniors who are not part of "their" group. These bullies tell other seniors where they can and cannot sit, and what activities they can and cannot participate in. These altercations rarely become physical; however there is a real concern that seniors who are on the receiving end of bullying may isolate themselves by no longer attending a senior center, or not participating in the activities at their senior housing facility.
When this happens, these individuals may not be getting the medical and nutritional services they were previously getting. There is also a loss of socialization which is very important to the well being of all people, and one of the most common reasons seniors join senior centers and senior housing facilities in the first place.
With the baby boomers aging, and the retirement community increasing, these issues will probably become more common. Some say bullying is just a normal part of communal living and human behavior, but the harm that can come from bullying is huge, and needs to be addressed.
One way to curtail bullying is for senior agencies to have, and enforce, a code of conduct that states all members will be treated with consideration, respect and recognition of their dignity. There needs to be clear expectations about what kind of behavior is appropriate, and to have an all around culture where bullying is unacceptable.
The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620. Information is also periodically provided by the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center. They may be reached at 565-4543 or 565-4625.