When you think of summer, most people think of lazy days by the pool, vacations, and trips to the state fair. For others, summer means hot days and humid nights. Now that we are in the dog days of summer, plenty of people are staying indoors to stay cool, especially seniors, who may choose to pass the time by gambling.
While some seniors beat the heat by gambling online in the comfort of their own homes, others may prefer to go somewhere to gamble. Casinos and bingo halls are particularly popular with older gamblers and they often provide things such as free drinks, scooters, and oxygen hook-ups—these amenities can make gambling attractive to seniors who may also be looking to combat loneliness or boredom.
Experts also warn that seniors can become especially susceptible to problem gambling, especially if they are predisposed to addiction or take certain types of medication. “One of the main treatments for Parkinson’s has a warning from the FDA saying that there is a much higher risk of developing a gambling problem because of the effect that the medication has on the areas of the brain that also govern the decision to gamble,” says Keith Whyte with the National Center for Problem Gambling.
During hot weather, when you check on older friends, family members, and neighbors, also check on potential warning signs. How can you tell if a senior is suffering from problem gambling? Our Responsible Gambling Quiz can help you determine if your loved one is at risk for problem gambling. In the meantime, here are some signs to watch for:
- Are they preoccupied with gambling, constantly talking about gambling, or frequently planning to gamble?
- Are they gambling more and more money to get the same level of excitement?
- Are they using retirement funds or other savings to gamble, or are they pawning or selling personal items to get money for gambling?
- Have they lost control to the point where 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 about their gambling activities?
If the answers to any of these questions is “yes,” your loved one may have a problem. To find help in your area, contact the Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966. The Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 by texting 4hope to 741741.