Gambling among older adults is on the rise, largely due to the availability and accessibility of options in the state. When gambling becomes a problem among seniors, it can be particularly challenging since it occurs at a time in a person’s life when recouping financial losses can be very difficult, if not impossible.
Many elders may turn to gambling, not only as a social and entertainment activity, but also as a means of trying to deal with the loss, the grief, and feelings of isolation.
For many seniors, gambling is an escape from boredom brought about by an increase of unstructured time after retirement, or following the death of a spouse or other loved one. For many, their social network may not be large enough to draw the necessary support. A recent study found that 27% of American adults ages 60 and older live alone — more than anywhere else in the world.1 As a result, many elders may turn to gambling, not only as a social and entertainment activity, but also as a means of trying to deal with the loss, the grief, and feelings of isolation. However, gambling is not a risk-free activity, particularly among this population.
What makes seniors particularly vulnerable? There are several factors that contribute to why seniors are particularly vulnerable when confronting gambling related difficulties. The ones most often identified include the following:
❖ Onset of retirement and unstructured time
❖ Loss of family members and other supports
❖ Memory challenges
❖ Physical limitations
❖ Lack of alternative activities
❖ Feelings of isolation
❖ Inability to recover financial losses
❖ Marketing by gambling industry
❖ Recreational offerings by senior centers and other organization outings
What information is available to seniors and others? For many years, the FCCG has played an instrumental role in convening experts within the elder service community to address issues related to senior gambling. In addition to a national think tank, prevalence study, and other research initiatives undertaken by the FCCG, in cooperation with others, the Agency developed its Playing It Safe toolkit , which is a free educational and instructional packet that enables senior service providers to present the topic of gambling and older adults effectively and creatively. To toolkit’s contents, as well as other available materials geared toward seniors, view our Population-Specific Resources page.
Are you an older adult concerned about your gambling? To see if you would benefit from our resources, please take our Self Assessment Quiz below or contact the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine today.
1Ausubel, Jacob. “Older People Are More Likely to Live Alone in the U.S. than Elsewhere in the World.” Pew Research Center, 24 Sept. 2020, www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2020/03/10/older-people-are-more-likely-to-live-alone-in-the-u-s-than-elsewhere-in-the-world/.