5 Reasons to Get Problem Gambling Help for a Senior—Now!

Maybe Dad’s racetrack trips have become much more frequent, or perhaps Nana’s seemingly obsessed with a new casino app. If a senior you love is becoming increasingly enamored with gambling, it might be time to take action. Here are five reasons to start the gambling addiction conversation with your loved one sooner rather than later:

1. Seniors have less time to bounce back financially.

A problem gambler who enters treatment in his 30s will have decades to rebuild his finances. In contrast, a senior gambler who starts addiction recovery in her 80s is likely already retired and, what’s more, may lack the skills or health to find a job to pay gambling debt and meet living expenses.

2. Gambling behavior can be made worse by conditions like dementia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years after age 65, while an estimated 25-50% of Americans age 85 and older show signs of the condition. The onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia impact a person’s ability to make reasonable decisions, including those related to choosing when it’s time to walk away from a slot machine.

3. Gambling addiction may impact physical health.

While problem gambling is a disorder that affects decision making, it also causes a significant amount of stress for the gambler. He might worry about where the rent money will come from, or she may stress over how to fund the next casino trip—and stress is a well-known risk factor in everything from hypertension to substance abuse. Additionally, a senior who has spent all his money on gambling may not have the money to buy needed prescription drugs.

4. Casinos are working hard to attract senior gamblers.

From installing insulin needle disposal boxes in bathrooms to providing scooters with room for oxygen tanks, casinos are working very hard to attract the lucrative senior market—about 30% of casino visitors are age 65 or older.

Not only are gambling venues making it logistically easier for older gamblers to visit, casino marketers also lure potentially lonely senior gamblers by sending birthday cards or “We miss you” cards, according to an article in Social Work Today.

5. Gambling is increasingly accessible.

Gambling websites and apps offer 24/7 access to games.  A gambler no longer needs to make a casino or racetrack trip because she can play casino games online or with a mobile device. This technology gives even housebound seniors access to wagering.

No one is ever too old to stop destructive gambling behavior.

Take the quiz on the SafeStakes home page to learn whether a senior you love is at risk for gambling addiction. For more information or treatment guidance, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use our online Get Help form.



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