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Our thanks to alum Joyce Ciriales for finding this article in the Health section of a Philadelphia paper about the work of our very own Dr. Patrick Arbore:
Most of us probably think of kids when we think of bullies. Patrick Arbore thinks of an old man he watched trip a frail old woman in the senior facility where they both lived. He also thinks of a group of women elsewhere who taunted a new resident for speaking Spanish, and of an elderly resident who made a manager’s life so miserable that she quit. The bully smiled broadly when the manager announced her resignation.
“That teenage boy who was the terror in your high school grew up and he just got better at it,” said Arbore, who spoke Thursday at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging‘s Regional Conference on Aging, a three-day event that drew about 600 professionals who work with older adults and their families.
Arbore, who grew up on a Western Pennsylvania dairy farm, also thinks of his father and grandmother, who he says were bullies. Exposure to them made him repress his own anger, and he became depressed and suicidal. But his experience also convinced him that both victims and bullies deserve compassion.
“Bullying is taught,” he said, and it often stems from fear and inadequacy. “People who bully have an intense desire to be in control. What that reveals underneath is insecurity,” said Arbore, founder and director of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief Related Services at the Institute on Aging in San Francisco.
Arbore said he confronted the man he’d seen trip his fellow resident. She’d managed not to fall, but her lunch went flying. She cried when she got to her table. The man refused to meet Arbore’s eyes and denied that he had done anything. Arbore talked to him again later and his anger spilled out. He hated the woman, he said. He hated old people and he didn’t want to be like her.
The man’s actions revealed his “internalized ageism,” Arbore said.
Americans have gotten better at acknowledging bullying in schools, but they’ve been slower to confront the reality of bullying among seniors, Arbore said. Ten to 20 percent of seniors reported exposure to aggression by other older adults, usually verbal abuse, one study found. He thinks the behavior is underreported. Seniors are afraid to tell, and staff may be afraid that bullies will focus on them. The bullies may also be cunning enough to ingratiate themselves with managers.
Senior victims are often smaller and frailer than their bullies. Some may have dementia or anxiety, or even a history of abuse. Bullying often occurs when the staff isn’t watching, in dining rooms where newcomers are shunned at certain tables and communal areas where a bully controls the television. Even Facebook can be a forum for bullying and exclusion.
The abuse may leave victims depressed and isolated. Arbore said bullies are dangerous because they inspire more bullying and fuel hate.
While some victims can learn to be more assertive, others must rely on staff to create an environment where everyone knows that bullying is unacceptable, Arbore said.
Bullies often have no idea how their actions affect others, he said. Empathy can be taught. Sometimes it’s helpful for a staff member to mediate a discussion between bully and victim, concluding with the bully agreeing to stop.
Staff, he said, can “teach that bully that there are other people and it’s OK if they are different than you are, and you’re not in charge of the moral compass.”
I overheard Dr. Patrick Arbore say once, “after you take my class [Intro to Gerontology], you will no longer be afraid of aging or dying.” In the same conversation, Dr. Helene Laroche-Davis said that her life has gotten better every year since she’s turned 50. In tribute to those sentiments, the extraordinary leaders who said them, and those who study gerontology and serve those who are older, here’s an article the Washington Post from a couple of years ago about Ida Keeling, the 99-year-old who set a record in the 100-meter dash:
Ida Keeling wasn’t competing at the Gay Games 9 to break a record; she was there to set one.
The 99-year-old great-great-grandmother from New York finished the 100-meter race Tuesday with a time of 59.8 seconds, becoming the first woman in the 95-99 age group to have completed the event in an internationally certified race, according to her daughter, Shelley Keeling (via the Akron Beacon Journal).
(In June 2012, Ida, then 97, ran the 100-meter in 51.85 at the USA Track and Field East Regional Championships.)
Ida, standing 4 feet 6 and weighing 83 pounds, started competitive running at age 67 to help deal with grief over losing her two sons from drug-related homicides.
“I was so depressed, and my daughter wanted to take me on a mini run,” Keeling said before the race (via the Akron Beacon Journal). “After it was finished, I felt relaxed and relieved.”
Keeling lives by herself in a studio apartment and uses the gym twice a week in addition to running and yoga, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Shelley, 63, is a real estate investor who coaches track at Fieldston School in the Bronx.
“She was sinking deeper and deeper,” Shelley said (via the Akron Beacon Journal). “I said, ‘Mama, you had four kids, but I only have one mother. You’re coming out with me.’ I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I knew I had to try something.”
Ida turns 100 on May 15 and hopes to set a new record in the 100 and older age group.
“If I can or if I feel up to it… the pace gets lower as you get older because you get tired quicker,” she told Newsnet5 in Cleveland.
As for her advice on longevity?
“Eat for nutrition, not for taste. Do what you need to do, not what you want to do and don’t leave out your daily exercise. Love yourself.”
(H/T Runner’s World)
Photo courtesy espn.go.com
Patrick Arbore has been teaching at Notre Dame de Namur University for the past 25 years; literally thousands of students have benefitted from his wisdom and join staff and faculty in being inspired by his compassion, wisdom, and expertise in the field of gerontology, research methods, counseling skills, communication, and more. Congratulations, Patrick, on this well-deserved honor!
The written article from the same broadcast, pasted below, can be found at KPIX here: SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — National estimates show a third of older Americans living in nursing homes suffer from depression, and 60% don’t receive any visitors. But this week’s Jefferson Award winner has created a one-of-a-kind program to lift their spirits.
Dr. Patrick Arbore says senior citizens represent 12% of the U.S. population, but 15% of all suicides. So he’s making changes, one phone call at a time.
“We recognize you, we acknowledge your presence in the community,” he said, as though addressing seniors. “You are not invisible to us.”
Arbore founded the Friendship Line in 1973. (To reach the Friendship Line in the Bay Area, call 415-752-3778. Nationally, the number is 800-971-0016.) He says the confidential service is the only 24-hour toll-free, nationally-accredited suicide prevention hotline for senior citizens. Each year, staff and volunteers answer 40,000 calls from all over the country, and return calls to follow up.
“We really wanted to convey we’re interested in you. And we want to talk to you,” he explained. Arbore says even a short phone call — just five minutes — can help a person go from feeling lonely to feeling connected. “Just one person who says ‘I’m here for you’ is profound.”
Past volunteers on the Friendship Line say Arbore has inspired them with his contagious love for older adults. “He’s incredibly calm, incredibly compassionate, shows the power in just listening,” said Amy Preut. “I hear all the time if it wasn’t for us, they don’t know where they’d be in their lives,” added Natalie Schroeder.
Besides the Friendship Line, Arbore also founded the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention 24 years ago at the Institute on Aging to provide grief counseling and support groups.
And to combat holiday depression, he leads Songs for Seniors, a cable car caroling program he started in 1986. Hundreds of volunteers cheer up hundreds of homebound elderly.
“It does something magical,” he said. “That’s why we started doing that.”
So for creating a lifeline of friendship for seniors in crisis, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dr. Patrick Arbore.
If you need someone to talk to, or know someone who does, please call or encourage that person to call the Friendship Line at 415-752-3778. Nationally, call toll free: 1-800-971-0016. Dr. Arbore wants all senior citizens to know we care, and you matter.
Last week we profiled alum Jennifer Murray and her new job at the Institute on Aging and oft-quoted professor-extraordinaire Dr. Patrick Arbore, who directs the elder suicide prevention program at the IOA. This week we thought we’d share a link to job opportunities at the IOA for those who might be interested – now or in the future. Lots of opportunities for growth in this field as our population grows.
Image courtesy eventbright.com
With the sad death of actor Robin Williams came many articles about suicide and depression; the Wall Street Journal, covering this important issue, interviewed and quoted our very own Dr. Patrick Arbore, long time faculty member and Director of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention at San Francisco’s Institute on Aging.
The article, which includes concerning data about suicide trends, is here: Robin Williams’s Age Group at Heightened Suicide Risk
We appreciate the leadership role of Dr. Arbore in advocating for support and education about this issue and are honored by the expertise and knowledge that he brings to NDNU.
Image courtesy wsj.com
Jennifer Murray recently accepted a position as the Director of Homecare and Support Services at the Institute on Aging, where PSP faculty member and nationally renowned gerontologist Dr. Patrick Arbore also works. Her Facebook post announcing her new job shows her enthusiasm:
“Words cannot express how excited I am to have accepted today an amazing position at my DREAM company! I came into contact with IOA while completing my B.S and dreamed of a day that I may be able enhance the quality of life of others through their work. DREAM BIG, WORK HARD; HAVE FAITH!”
Interested in the field of gerontology (care for the aging)? Dr. Patrick Arbore sent information about a conference on Wednesday, October 23 in Santa Clara. (Thanks, Patrick!)
From their flyer: “Culturally Competent Care post DOMA: The striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act has far reaching implications for the LGBT community, including federal taxes, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and Medicare. Also learn about best practices, HIV in older adults, local resources, and more.”
- Best practices for LGBT Equity and Inclusion
- Law and Policy Issues for LGBT Elders
- Affirming to All: Culturally Appropriate Services for LGBT Older Adults in Our Communities
- Wisdom of the Aging: Fostering Spiritual and Meaning-Making for the Older LGBT Adult
- Uncharted Territory: HIV After Fifty
The conference will take place not far from Mission College in Santa Clara – a special “head up” to our Mission students!
See the Institute on Aging’s link for more information, price, and registration procedures.
Image courtesy Institute on Aging