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A Surprising Problem in Senior Living Communities: Bullying

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As seniors plan for retirement, one of their chief questions is, “Where will I live?” We deal with this question every day with our clients. For many healthy seniors, the perfect solution can be one of the growing number of senior living communities. These communal facilities allow seniors to avoid more traditional institutional care by choosing an environment that maximizes independence and quality of life while offering such amenities as fine dining, cultural outings and lifelong learning opportunities.

But here’s a challenge we first reported on last fall: according to an article published then on the website, a surprising number of retirees living in senior living communities find themselves having to deal with a problem that sounds more like junior high school: bullying. (Read the article here.) In this instance the bullies are not abusive staff, but fellow residents. Sadly, this phenomenon of seniors being mistreated by their peers is no joke, sometimes leaving the victim feeling isolated, lonely and depressed.

What does senior bullying look like? It can take many forms. Sometimes a new resident finds all the choice seats in the dining room or on the community bus saved for others, leaving the newcomer to sit alone. Other forms of bullying can include criticism and ridicule, stealing, lying, even verbal and physical abuse. A few years ago, says the article, AARP reported that between 10 and 20 percent of seniors in senior living communities were routinely subjected to these types of bullying behavior, with most of the violations going unreported, often due to embarrassment.

The reasons for bullying are complex and individual. As the article explains, sometimes the bully is reacting to his or her own loss of independence. The bully may feel powerless, so he or she acts out by exerting control over weaker peers. But no matter what the cause, there are important coping skills and strategies you or your loved one may need to learn in order to control and eliminate bullying behavior. It’s important to be on the alert if your mom or dad suddenly seems unhappy or depressed about the retirement community where they live: just as with a teen victim of bullying, they may be reacting to a hostile environment from their peers. This may require you as the family to step in, evaluate the situation and have a face to face conversation with the retirement home administrators.

If you’re a senior who is experiencing bullying from fellow residents in your community, or if you’re concerned about a loved one in a senior living community, the Senior Homes article is a Must Read.

Choosing the right housing options and exploring the pros and cons of each are important aspects of retirement planning. But it’s only one facet of what we call a LifePlan – a comprehensive and thorough approach to retirement planning that considers all five of the essential aspects of a good, solid plan. Besides housing, we walk you through the process of creating a sound financial plan, developing a solid legal strategy for your estate, communicating openly and productively with your family, and making sure you have access to the health care you’ll need. The LifePlan becomes your blueprint, helping you construct the retirement you’ve always wanted.

To get started, we invite you to attend one of our upcoming Life Planning Seminars, held at locations throughout the region. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for dates and times and to register for the seminar of your choice. But you’ll want to act quickly because these seminars tend to fill up fast.

It will be a pleasure meeting you at a LifePlanning Seminar, answering your questions, and helping you begin the satisfying process of developing a LifePlan of your own.

(Originally reported at


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