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How do I stop "Peer Bullying" and "Harassment "?

I live in a public independent living community where peer bullying and harassment is an ongoing thing. What can I do?
Status: Open    Oct 27, 2015 - 05:04 PM

Senior Living Communities

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Nov 16, 2015 - 11:25 AM

Unfortunately, your question is impossible to answer without knowing specifics. Let me speak in some generalities and see if anything helps in your situation.

Bullying is an unfortunate risk in communal living, and it bears a striking resemblance to the kind of abuse you can find in primary school with children. It is wrong and ugly and it should never happen.

To minimize or clear up bullying in senior living, I would recommend several steps, starting with discovery. First, ask who, what, when, where, why and how of the person doing the bullying. My number concern would be that the person who is bullying is no longer of an appropriate level of independence to remain in independent living. This occurs a lot with dementia and can manifest in many ways. Second, I would look at the person being bullied with the 5 W's. Is there a particular thing they are being bullied about? We are discussing a living situation where residents age in place for a number of years, and over that time things like personal hygiene can become difficult. Is there an odor? If there is some plausible explanation for the bullying, then the bullied person should seriously consider increasing their personal care.

I don't think it is worth being shy at this age or type of living - physical and cognitive challenges are a fact of life and denial gets nobody anywhere. I will regularly review the condition of independent living residents ahead of being harassed or (more commonly) ostracized and recommend some steps. Odors are the most common culprit, so I will often recommend some help with more frequent bathing or laundry assistance.

Whatever is happening, you need to meet with the administrator to have a conversation about your grievance. Do so objectively and with an open mind in search of a resolution. You have the right to live free of harassment, and you should always refer back to your state's Residents' Rights as a source of your personal expectations for the community you live at. Harassment is a form of emotional abuse, and it is no more acceptable from other residents than it is from staff.

You can find the Missouri Residents' Rights at:

Nov 16, 2015 - 01:59 PM

Check for an elder abuse or similar hotline in your area. You may be able to make an anonymous report, especially if the harassment is coming from the staff of the independent living community. Regarding the peer bullying, this is something the social worker or administrator of your community should address. If you are concerned about being a target after reporting the bullying, consider writing an anonymous letter to the administrator.

Nov 21, 2015 - 06:48 AM

Research shows that perhaps the most prevelant form of elder abuse in long term care communities is from other residents. And, what makes the target of the bullying more vulnerable is isolation. They tend to go after other residents who don't have visitors or other friends in the community. This way, they know they are safe from being "told on."

The best thing is to surround yourself, or your senior, with advocates: friends, family, or paid individuals to visit.


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