Bullying Major Problem In Senior Care Centers

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)–  Gerontologist Dr. Macie Smith said it is like real housewives, but this time, the real residents of Senior living homes. Places where you hope your loved ones are safe but instead they might be facing bullying from other residents.

Especially the women in the nursing home. They can be mean girls,” Dr. Smith said. Dr. Smith said she had a client who was depressed and crying a lot– something her family said was out of the ordinary. Turns out, her client was being bullied.  

“Residents would not allow her to sit at their table and have dinner, breakfast or lunch. They would shun her during activities. They would not be kind to her, and it got to the point where she did not want to come out of her room, and she did not want to come down and participate in activities. So it was actually affecting her livelihood and her ability to socialize and engage with other people,” Smith said.

It is not just a women issue either, many senior men are dealing with bullying too.

“There was a particular resident and he was just kind of like, if he didn’t like you, he didn’t like you. We had an incident where he hit another resident. We had an incident where he took another residents meal and threw it on the floor because he wanted to,” Tierney Stevens said. Stevens has been a nurse for long-term living for nearly 6 years, and says family members should look for the signs: if they’re withdrawing from activities they once loved, isolating themselves, or crying a lot, it could be a red flag that something else is going on. Stevens says if you notice any of the signs or see something, always report it to the administrators, and then follow up. All facilities should have a plan in place to deal with bullies.

It’s one of things. You’ve kind of  have to redirect, separate. Keep the fish over here, and keep the sharks over here,” Stevens said.

A study shows more than 2,800 senior citizens are bullied a year– that is 1-in-8 reported cases. All of the senior care staff we spoke with said they know the numbers are higher; seniors just do not report bullying or are unable to communicate the problem.

“You gotta know what triggers a person, you gotta know your residents, their personalities. And once you identify those things, you gotta make sure you nip those things immediately so that you handle it where they feel comfortable and they know you’re supporting them through it,” Kesha Hayes said, who has worked in multiple senior care facilities across the state.

“It doesn’t just affect the girl, it doesn’t just affect children. As we’ve seen from the AP report, elderly folks are being affected by bullying when they’re probably at their most fragile moment in life,” TiffanyJ said, an anti-bully advocate and founded of Buddies Not Bullies. They will be having a rally on Sunday at the State House grounds to promote anti-bullying and mental health awareness. The anti-bullying rally will be from 3-5 p.m. and will be led by Super Beauty, a character promoting self-love. Something senior citizens need a little extra help with.

Dr. Smith said it is better to overreport than to not report at all. If the senior care centers’ administration does not intervene, contact the Ombudsman office within the office on aging. Their phone number is 1-800-868-9095 or click the link here.  That will take you to the Attorney General’s office and office on aging website.

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