Thursday, February 8, 2018

Manage Risks for Seniors Who Gamble

As long as risks to security aren’t excessive, gambling can be a positive pastime for older adults. In a review of twenty years of studies worldwide on the topic, researchers at Bangkok University concluded that gambling often provides seniors with valuable social interaction and mental stimulation. Casino gambling is the most popular day-trip social activity for people at least age 65 living in residential and assisted care facilities, with a major motivation being the opportunity to meet and talk with others. Lotteries, the most common form of gambling among older adults, provide excitement and a break from the routine, said the studies’ participants.
     It might seem that those of advanced age would be more susceptible to problem gambling. Aging brings deficits in learning from recent experiences and in impulse control. However, the research review indicated that the rate of problem gambling is not higher among older adults than in other age groups. One explanation is that those with severe deficits select themselves out or are otherwise less likely to place themselves in gambling situations.
     Still, when problem gambling does exist, the consequences could be more severe, since older adults have fewer years and, in general, less ongoing monetary income to recover from losses. Therefore, marketers who promote gambling by seniors also have a responsibility to facilitate those seniors managing the risks.
     One validated technique is to regularly remind the seniors of the dangers. This is best done with stories rather than statistics alone, since stories are more persuasive. Study results from High Point University and Bradley University suggest that people who lightly engage in problem gambling will probably respond best to stories which, without apparent exaggeration, portray the negative consequences of continuing. For heavy abusers—those who might be considered gambling addicts—go positive instead, pointing out the benefits of cessation for people like them.
     Labeling gambling for what it truly is also helps. People who have never before wagered online are less likely to overdo if it’s called “gambling” rather than “gaming.”
     In an exploratory study, interviewers at Portugal’s University of Porto heard from older adults that reminders of dangers and accurate labeling of gambling as an activity in which you’re bound to lose money in the long run both work well in curbing problem gambling. Another technique suggested in the interviews was to encourage the senior, before entering a casino, set limits on what money and time will be spent.

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