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Workers at 216 homes for handicapped elderly citizens, or 32 percent of facilities surveyed, said they have witnessed bullying among the residents or mistreatment by workers, according to a university professor who led the survey.

Soji Tanaka, of Tokai University, said Monday that most of the bullying or mistreatment was verbal, such as accusations or insults directed toward elderly citizens by staffers.

Tanaka leads a group of university professors researching how the elderly are treated at such facilities.

The group sent questionnaires in November to 1,997 homes across the nation for senior citizens who are bedridden, suffering senile dementia or physically handicapped, asking care workers whether they had witnessed any cases of bullying or abuse, including psychological ones, during the previous year.

Of the 1,997 facilities, workers from 678 — or 34 percent — responded to the survey, which enabled respondents to keep their names and workplaces anonymous.

Workers from 216 facilities reported a total of 230 cases of bullying or mistreatment.

, with 46 percent (106 cases) described as bullying among the elderly and 42 percent (97 cases) as mistreatment by workers.

Of the mistreatment cases, 40 percent involved workers scolding or accusing the handicapped elderly citizens, while 26 percent involved verbal abuse.

In addition, 25 percent involved intentional rough treatment of the elderly and 22 percent involved workers ignoring or not responding to them when they called for assistance.

The respondents gave one or more examples in describing the cases.