Mean Girls (and Guys) Can Ruin Retirement

Category: Health Issues

It seems like the biggest story about retirement this week was the sad tale of
Doris Lor, a 76 year old resident of Solera, an active adult community in Chandler, AZ. According to numerous news reports, Ms. Lor was repeatedly bullied by women in the community, who refused to let her sit at their table or join in community card games. Apparently it is not just mean girls, either, as some men in the community were involved in refusing to let her participate.

The sad lesson of the story seems to be that mean people and bullies aren’t just confined to junior high school or fraternities/sororities – apparently you are never too old to be a bully.

Various experts and community managers offered different perspectives on the extent of the problem and possible solutions. Although there is agreement that such incidents do occur in retirement or active adult communities, there are not a lot of complaints made.

Problems
Alice, who lives in a CCRC in northern NJ, had what is probably a fairly typical problem. The situation for Alice was a very bossy woman who constantly browbeat her fellow card players. Once confronted, the tyrant softened and admitted that her personal life was a shambles – her husband had Alzheimers and her finances were deteriorating. Susan, a widow in a South Florida retirement community had a less easily solved problem. In her case it was a very aggressive widow who constantly tried to crash Susan’s social activities.

Solutions

In our opinion the bullying problem seems to affect single people more than married folks. Married people tend to have more support to help solve problems. They also don’t face the same challenges that single people have in forging new social relationships late in life. In the ABC News story “Mean Girls Prowl Retirement Community”, Ken Budd, executive editor of AARP, The Magazine, offered some advice for dealing with bullies: “If you can’t defuse a toxic personality, the best strategy is often to graciously distance yourself from that person.”

Your Comments?
What do you think about the problem – and how would you solve it if it happened to you? Please share your Comments below.

Posted by John Brady on January 4th, 2011

5 Comments »

  1. Any community is really a microcosm of society. I’d suggest to Doris that she forms her own group of like-minded friends and begin her own card game group, and get involved in activities where the “mean girls” are diluted in number or not involved. Sometimes it’s the mob mentality, and if it’s one-on-one the dynamic can change. Not that it’s right that she is bullied, but if she is ostracized from certain groups, she should create her own group. She should have the support of Solera to do that, and they can find a time and location for her group to meet. Unfortunatley, cliques do form – it happens where people are working, school, or wherever else there is a group – you need to create your own groups of friends. With over 1,000 residents, she should be able to form her own “posse.”

    Jan Cullinane, co-author, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)

    by Jan Cullinane — January 5, 2011

  2. This doesn’t happen at Lake Weir Living! Come live in sunny Florida at Lake Weir Living where the cool kids live like the Fonzie and Richie Cunningham! We only have cool kids who love their big ‘toys’ and dig the outdoors! 😛

    by Neil — January 5, 2011

  3. I had a bunch of “bullies” try to trash me on the Villages (FL) community website.
    Why? A simple disagreement over politics. Those people are highly intolerant towards anyone who doesn’t share their particular beliefs. Pity, eh? One might think that living to retirement age might bring a more tolerant viewpoint to the plate, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

    by Marge — January 5, 2011

  4. I think what Jan said was spot on. If you get to know people one on one you can find something nice even in the mean girls. Most bullies are terribly insecure, and just want you to listen to them for awhile. Yes, they’re probably ignorant and difficult to listen to, but try not to be too irritated. And try not to feel like you’re the only one they pick on…they pick on each other too, no doubt! There are plenty of friends you can make, it just takes time and patience.

    by Susan — January 5, 2011

  5. Frankly, if the community is large enough,anyone should be able to find their own friends and not have to try to ingratiate themselves with people who don’t want them around or who are worse yet and resort to bullying. Why on earth would anyone want to be around people like this, and treat others this way? As far as bullying is concerned, bullies are indeed insecure and usually have a host of psychological and personal issues. I’m thinking that the best bet for some 70+ year old woman, is to simply avoid people like this. However, constant or repeated bullying is another story. If bullying continues on more than one occassion and being rational and civil doesn’t work and you can’t avoid these individuals, it’s obviously time to fight back. Unfortunately, I have found that if you don’t stand up to bullies and give them back some of their own medicine in “spades” they usually will start up with you again.Unfortunately, trying to be civil and rational with bullies doesn’t work. Maybe being rude and abusive isn’t your “normal” way of dealing with people like this or the prescribed Dale Carnegie method. However, do you really want these S.O.B’s or bitches as your friends? I’d rather have them get out of MY way and be a little afraid of ME rather than the other way around. A little back bone goes a long way.

    by Artie — January 6, 2011

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