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Elderly bullying happens in Saskatoon: study

Click to play video: 'Officials trying to tackle problem of seniors bullying each other in some Saskatoon facilities'
Officials trying to tackle problem of seniors bullying each other in some Saskatoon facilities
WATCH ABOVE: Officials trying to tackle problem of seniors bullying each other in some Saskatoon facilities. Rebekah Lesko reports. – Jun 16, 2017

Bullying does not just happen in the school yard. Bullying happens between seniors as well.

After connecting with hundreds of older adults, the Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA) heard seniors are bullying one another in their communities.

READ MORE: Saskatoon age-friendly initiative aims to give voice to older adults

“They’re formerly living independently, making their own decisions about their lives. Now living in a congregate living facility, where they’re having to meet and get along with a whole range of different people,” Candace Skrapek, the age-friendly development committee chair with SCOA, explained.

This sparked a professor at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) College of Medicine to conduct a study on seniors bullying other seniors.

The study found bullying among seniors has similarities to bullying among youth, although it found seniors have less resources available to them.

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The U of S study found nearly a third of seniors have experienced bullying. The study said 39 per cent of respondents witnessed their peer being bullied as well.

“We put these people in who are afraid of growing old. Who society thinks, your purpose has really passed. We put them together and they start to compete. They turn on each other when they see disability happening because they’re so frightened,” Suellen Beatty, the CEO of Sherbrooke Community Centre, said.

Beatty said one way to combat bullying among seniors is incorporating different age groups and abilities into living environments.

She said that diversity has helped put the brakes on bullying at Sherbrooke Community Centre.

“We have almost the reflection of a regular community and I think that’s powerful,” Beatty said.

“We’ve built a community saying we know people are lonely, helpless and bored and we know people need meaning. Let’s help each other.”

READ MORE: An elderly woman was robbed while grocery shopping. What police did next made her cry

Senior bullying is expected to worsen, as Canada’s senior population continues to grow. Skrapek said seniors have to live by new rules and also experience loss, which could be a reason for bullying others.

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“They have a loss of their health. They have often a loss of a spouse. They have to maybe move away from their community. That’s particularly true of rural older adults who have to move into the city, so they’re away from their support system,” Skrapek said.

Skrapek said SCOA is working on a toolkit for senior residents and staff to help curb bullying. It is expected to be completed in the fall.

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