Gambling can become a problem for adults over the age of 65 as easily as any other age group. Older adults are often drawn to the convenience of gambling close to home, being able to begin gambling with low amounts of money and having a safe and pleasant place to go and enjoy some time with friends or alone.
Only two national studies have been done examining gambling in the USA. The first one was completed in 1975 and the most recent study in 1999. Interestingly the number of older adults with gambling problems has almost doubled from 1975 to 1999. Though older adults are not the largest age group with gambling problems concern about the loss of lifetime savings, property, family assets and legacies do warrant concern. Problems begin if older adults with limited income begin to gamble with more than they can afford to lose.
Adult children worried about older adult gambling problems should be aware of the warning signs:
- Withdrawing from family and friends and isolating
- Making excuses for not attending regular family functions, e.g. Sunday dinner, birthdays, graduations etc.
- Unable to pay regular monthly bills, borrowing money.
- Cashing in stocks, bonds and selling or pawning family valuables, antiques or collections.
- Unexplained loss of weight, little if any food in pantry or refrigerator.
- Prescriptions not being refilled on time, sharing of prescriptions or skipping doses.