Understanding Gambling Addiction in the Elderly
Why is gambling becoming so popular for seniors? There are a number of possible answers; but the most important question to ask is “How do we address this growing gambling addiction in the elderly?”
Why Is Gambling Popular Among Seniors?
- Time – Once seniors are retired they have time on their hands and this time can be filled with a number of options. Playing slot machines, cards, and other games of chance can help fill their time.
- Social Interaction – Many seniors live alone and this can cause them to miss being socially interactive. Spending time in a casino, race track betting business or other gambling oriented places allows for social interaction with others.
- Budget – Unlike while they were supporting a family, feeding and clothing a household and coming home from a long day at work, retired seniors now have extra time and money. The fact that their homes are most likely paid for and expenses for clothes and food are much lower tends to allow for a few extra dollars available in their budget now.
- Simple Addiction – Plain and simple addiction to the feeling of the win is one of the biggest reasons for the increase in gambling addiction in the elderly.
- Ease – The ability to gamble comes easy now; lottery tickets, casinos, slot machines, card games, “Tip Boards” sold in bars and clubs, online games of chance
- Winning Temptations – Small wins will entice seniors who may be setting aside money for a special purchase to think in terms of “Well I tripled my money that one time, maybe I’ll do it again and can afford buy that item sooner!” or the infamous thought of “It’s time for a win! I’m overdue!”
- Entertainment – Much like the social interaction, entertainment can be hard to find as we age. Being around a group of other people, small talk, drinking coffee or beverages, and making friends is a perfect way to be entertained for hours; especially if you’re just going to be using a small amount of money each time. Unfortunately the money they spend can increase.
The Statistics of Gambling Addiction in the Elderly
Here are a few facts about senior and the increasing numbers we are seeing.
- Over 40% of gamblers are retirees/seniors
- Senior women are the fastest growing group of gamblers according to AARP
- Senior gambler rates continue to soar as the ability to gamble becomes easier (online, more casinos being built in various states, more betting centers, increased lottery sales)
Here is a free brochure on seniors and gambling. If you find that you or someone you love has become addicted to gambling in any form you can contact the National Council for Problem Gambling (800) 522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org
Gambling addiction in the elderly is not something to ignore as it can end in a loved one losing their home or becoming so in debt that they may never be able to dig out.
Cited Works: “Are Seniors Gambling Away Their Retirement?” By Liz Pullian Watson, msn.com
AARP Magazine Online – aarp.org
Photo by brunosan