For most older adults, gambling is simply a fun recreational activity, but for those who become addicted to it, it can be a devastating disease that can financially wipe them out.
There are a number of reasons why seniors can be vulnerable to gambling problems. For starters, seniors are often catered to by casinos with free bus transportation, free or discounted meals, special rewards and other prizes as a way to entice them.
In addition, many seniors use gambling as a way to distract or escape feelings of loneliness, depression, sadness, or even a chronic health condition. Some may have financial problems they are seeking to overcome. And some may have cognitive impairment that interferes with their ability to make sound decisions.
Adding to the problem is that many seniors may not understand addiction, making them less likely to identify a gambling problem. Or they may be confused or embarrassed that they can’t control their urges to gamble and reluctant to seek help because they think that at their age, they should know better. And even if they recognize that they have a problem, they may not know that help is available or where to get it.
You should also know that while there are many gambling options for people to get hooked on today, casino slot machines are far and away the most popular among seniors. Slot machines are much more addictive then the old machines of yesteryear with spinning lemons, cherries and melons. Many of today’s slot machines offer intense sensory stimulation with large video screens, music and vibrating, ergonomic chairs.
If you think you or someone you may know is struggling to gamble responsibly, go to the95percent.org and take the quiz!