Episode 97 - Dr. Robin Bonifas: Mean Girls at 70: Bullying Among Residents at Assisted Living Facilities

Monday, May 28, 2012, 10:03:06 AM

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In this episode, Dr. Robin Bonifas discusses her research on senior bullying and relationship changes in assisted living facilities. Dr. Bonifas shares her findings on how seniors experience problematic behaviors in assisted living facilities, how they cope, and their ideas on how to address bullying at the individual and facility level.

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Average Rating: 4.3 stars (6 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 3stars  comment, Tuesday, February 13, 2018

By Steve :

The most important idea I learned from this episode is that the reason some seniors are bullying others is that they may be trying to gain some control in a new environment.

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Average Rating: 4stars  community dynamics , Wednesday, February 07, 2018

By Badiah :

I chose to listen to this podcast because I am planning to specialize in gerontology. The title caught my attention because I found it interesting that bullying could be an issue at assisted living facilities! My 87-year-old grandmother currently resides in an assisted living facility so I began to wonder if this is something she may be experiencing. I appreciated Dr. Bonifas explanation of her current research. I like that she avoid the word bullying in her interviews with residents to avoid labeling. Is it possible that the same older adults who are bullies were once bullies as teens? Dr. Bonifas makes you think about what it will be like to grow old and live in a shared living environment – especially for those that have no other housing options. She mentions that the same issues teens face with bullying in school is similar to the behavior observed in assisted living facilities. Could it be an issue for communal living in general? Prison populations? It’s refreshing that bullies are now facing consequences while at the same time addressing the personal issues that may be predisposing them to “bully tendencies." Likewise, victims are receiving the support they need to recover and to build confidence in themselves. I think Dr. Bonifas description of the interventions was the highlight of the podcast, as it provided some understanding of why this particular research could be beneficial. The fact that this research is honing in on the victim’s perspective is one of many current models of care that incorporate a person-centered approach. In part, this is a push for people on Medicaid/Medicare to rely on community resources rather than long-term care facilities who inevitably are more costly. However, allowing the elderly to maintain their independence in the community-sense is in their best interest as well since we are living longer as a whole.

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Average Rating: 5stars  review, Tuesday, February 06, 2018

By Kristin Schuhmann :

I found this podcast to be very interesting. I never even thought that there would be bullying between residents in assisted living and nursing home facilities. Aggression is usually something that results from dementia and Alzheimer's disease which makes sense now that I think about it. It's very interesting that she mentioned that this bullying is seen through relationship interactions such as leaving people out of bingo or even making fun of people's clothes and hair. I never even thought that this could happen in people over the age of 70 because you never hear about this. I found it interesting that women engage differently than men and that women are more likely to be the bully. Overall, this was a very informational podcast!

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Average Rating: 5stars  important research on a unique topic!, Monday, February 02, 2015

By Cassidy C :

I found the research described by Dr. Bonifas unique because “bullying” is not a term typically used to describe behavior past childhood and adolescence. Similarly, as my only experience is in a skilled nursing home, the problematic behavior I’ve witnessed among the elderly population was largely based on dementia symptoms. The research Dr. Bonifas explained is very important if we as social workers hope to create facilities for the elderly that reflect a trauma informed environment. I like how the qualitative research project is client-centered and allows the residents to comment on their own perceptions of bullying. This method allowed for the discovery of unexpected stressors like witnessing psychiatric symptoms of other residents. Because all residents may define a behavior differently, the only way to start to alleviate the incidence of bullying is to first find out what exactly bullying means at the facility.
The inclusion of resident recommended interventions to combat bullying and help victims cope gives an essential sense of optimism. I like that regular meetings to talk about issues related to bullying was included because it allows the residents to participate in decision-making. After all, residents are the “consumers” at an assisted living facility, and I enjoyed Dr. Bonifas’s use of this term. If long term care facilities do not take the perspective, needs, and wants of their consumers into account, then the residents are the ones who suffer the consequences. Overall, I found the research by Dr. Bonifas to be different, yet extremely important in the movement to better the lives of the deserving elderly population.

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Average Rating: 5stars  great information on a growing issue, Sunday, April 14, 2013

By Danielle S. :

Wow, this was an amazing podcast! I did not even realize that bullying was an issue among older adults who live in assisted living facilities. Dr. Bonifas discusses her study which explores this problem. She interviewed the residents to find out how they cope with the bullying, how they react to it and what they think should be done to address it. She also discusses the negative psychosocial affects that bullying has on the residents who are living in the facility. One aspect of this study that I really liked was that the participants were able to suggest interventions that will later be used to address this prevalent issue. I have never seen a study that asks the participants what they would like to see done as an intervention. This approach makes sense to me, as the facility is their home and they should be able to have a say in what should be done to solve the problem. I highly recommend this podcast to all social workers and family members who have loved ones living in nursing homes.

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Average Rating: 4stars  increasingly relevant research, Monday, January 28, 2013

By Dina Petrella :

This podcast brings into focus a growing concern for the elder population. The numbers of babyboomers aging out will present social workers and other professionals with new dilemmas and a need for new tools. There will likely be numerous changes to the current system of geriatric care. Having worked in SNFs, in both affluent suburban and poorer urban environments, I have experienced first-hand how population demographics within these facilities influences the culture. For now, ALFs are an option only those of a certain socioeconomic level can afford. Given the tensions that Dr. Bonifas describes over differences of values, ethnicities, religious beliefs and class, one can only imagine what issues would arise over differences of sexual orientation and gender expression. These and other issues will present themselves regardless of the type of community or institutional housing, and this pilot study is a positive step toward improving the wellbeing of this vulnerable population. The public tends to think of abuses within these settings as being perpetrated by staff; therefore, it would make sense to raise the consciousness of the public, as well as the administration and the residents who live within them.

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