Bullying among seniors in nursing homes happens for many of the same reasons it does among school children. Like students, seniors in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes are around each other in close quarters every day. In many cases, seniors may feel powerless, especially if they have to depend on others to care for them — so they exert their power in whatever way they can, sometimes resorting to bullying other residents. In fact, recent research suggests that about 20% of seniors encounter bullying.
Unfortunately, taunts, gossip and refusing to let people sit at a particular lunch table may not be the extent of the abuse. It can — and does — escalate to physical violence.
Anti-bullying training has expanded to senior facilities
Some nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have implemented anti-bullying training for staff members and residents. The classes are typically designed to help employees and residents recognize the signs of bullying, as well as report it.
Anti-bullying programs for seniors and nursing home staff may involve public messages and reminders throughout the care facility: for example, signs that say, “This Is a Bully Free Zone.”
What to do if your loved one is being abused in a New Mexico nursing home
Since many seniors in nursing homes are frail and vulnerable, even a relatively mild physical attack could have tragic consequences. If your loved one is being bullied or abused — physically or verbally — it is crucial to take action as soon as possible. You can report the problem to the nursing home, as well as consult with an attorney with experience in these kinds of cases. Effective legal action can help protect a vulnerable loved one from harm, as well as result in much-needed reform at a nursing home where elder abuse has occurred.
For more on what to do if you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, please see our Elder Abuse Frequently Asked Questions.