The generations before us have paved the way for our future and the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling is taking this opportunity to celebrate the senior citizens in our lives during Senior Independence Month. This month was designed to honor a senior’s independence and draw attention to activities and programs that can help them maintain it. Independence doesn’t mean doing life alone, making this a great opportunity to also recognize those who care for seniors and countless others on National Caregiver’s Day on February 17th. One way of honoring seniors and their caregivers is to raise awareness about compulsive gambling and available resources.
Why Seniors Are at Higher Risk
While many seniors are entering a new season of life filled with more free time to spend with loved ones or to pursue passions, there is a greater risk to develop problem gambling behaviors as they attempt to fill time gaps or other voids. Seniors are more at-risk of the effects of problem gambling because:
- Many live on fixed incomes with a limited ability for future earnings
- Challenges with cognitive and/or physical decline
- Boredom or feelings of loneliness or isolation
- They are significantly more likely to have a generalized anxiety or substance use disorder 
The Importance of Choosing a Dependable Caregiver
Caregivers come in many forms and whether it’s another family member or a hired professional, it’s essential to use caution when choosing the person caring for our older loved ones. Caregivers are responsible for taking the person under their care to appointments, preparing meals, housekeeping, assisting with bill paying, and more. However, caregiving can become overwhelming, so the person you choose needs to have healthy ways of coping, so they too do not seek escape via problem gambling behaviors.
How a Caregiver’s Gambling Problem Can Affect Loved Ones
The ripple effects of a caregiver’s gambling problem can be felt by clients and families, though in some cases clients may be unable to clearly communicate concerns.
If a caregiver has developed problem gambling behaviors, this can lead to financial exploitation of their client to feed the gambling addiction. This exploitation may not be noticed before items are missing or a large sum of money has been misappropriated. Beyond financial exploitation, caregivers may also introduce their clients to gambling to fill free time.
How to Identify Exploitation
Most people employ a caregiver when they are unable to tend to their loved ones 24/7. Understanding the importance of monitoring what goes on when no one else is around, is essential. Here are a few ways to identify elder exploitation due to gambling:
- Missing jewelry, money, or other possessions in client’s home
- Sudden changes or large withdrawals from financial accounts
- Unauthorized withdrawals from ATMs
- Client and caregiver are not where they are supposed to be when conducting unannounced visits
Fortunately, help is available for problem gamblers, loved ones, professionals, and others. Your One Sure Thing, 888-ADMIT-IT, can provide the free and confidential support and resources needed.
1. Older Adults and Problem Gambling – Oregon. https://www.oregon.gov/oha/HSD/Problem-Gambling/Documents/Older-Adults.pdf.