OKLAHOMA CITY - Many older adults enjoy gambling at the casino every now and then.
But for those that become addicted to it, it can be a devastating disease that can financially wipe them out.
Experts say problem gambling among seniors in the U.S. is on the rise.
Since seniors are often catered to by casinos with free bus transportation, free or discounted meals, special rewards and other prizes, they have become vulnerable to gambling problems.
Experts say many seniors use gambling as a way to distract or escape feelings of loneliness, depression, sadness, or even chronic health condition.
If you feel like your grandparent or loved one has a gambling problem, there is help available.
How can you know if your parent or grandparent has a gambling problem? Gamblers Anonymous offers a 20 question online test at gamblersanonymous.org he or she can take to help determine if they have a problem. In the meantime, here are some questions you can ask to help evaluate their situation.
- Are they preoccupied with gambling, constantly talking about it, or planning to gamble versus doing normal activities?
- Are they gambling more and more money to get the same level of excitement?
- Are they using their retirement funds or other savings to gamble, or are they pawning or selling personal items to get money to gamble with?
- Have they lost control to the point that they can’t set a limit of time and money to spend in the casino, and stick to it?
- Do they become uncomfortable, angry or lie when you ask them about their gambling activities?
If your loved one answers yes to any of these questions, he or she may have a problem. To find help contact the National Council on Problem Gambling, a non-profit organization that operates a 24-hour national hotline at 800-522-4700. They can direct you to resources in your area, including counselors who have been trained through the National Certified Gambler Counseling Program.