For many senior citizens, it’s becoming a popular pastime. Friends and relatives are being asked to watch their older relatives for signs of problem gambling.
Rose Gruber, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling, says many seniors use gambling as a distraction from emotional pain, such as the loss of a loved one, chronic pain or even the fear of death. Seniors are more likely to experience those changes all at the same time in their life.
“You might have a senior who is retired, the kids have moved out of the house, they may have downsized from a five bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment, they may have just retired, their spouse may have died.”
Gruber says older Americans are among the fastest-growing group of gamblers. Casinos offer price incentives, and seniors enjoy the social activity.
“You know, ‘I’m looking for something to do, this is kind of giving me a place to go, this is making me feel like I’m wanted, I’m not so alone, things aren’t hurting so bad when I go to the casino.'”
Signs a senior is developing a gambling problem: Frequency in playing, lengthy absences from home, increased health issues because their medication and food money is spent on gambling, cashing-in life insurance policies, depression, anxiety, stress-related disorders, missing household items to get extra cash. Gruber says gambling hotline counselors nationwide are noticing that calls from seniors are on the rise. Call: 1-800-GAMBLE-5
NOTE: A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that 70% of seniors had gambled in the last year. Help is available, both for the gambler and his family members. Visit: www.wi-problemgamblers.org Call: 24-hour helpline: 1-800-GAMBLE-5
More signs that someone you know is developing a gambling problem:
- Lying about gambling
- Hiding gambling losses
- Changing from gambling with groups to gambling alone
- Talking only about wins, not losses
- Missing household or personal items
- Becoming withdrawn from family and friends
- Use of credit cards to gamble