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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Don't gamble with seniors' health

Disappointing article that ignores the impacts and true costs!

Don't gamble with seniors' health

Frances L. Brisban, Times Union
Updated 6:58 am, Friday, December 27, 2013
The dramatic growth of the gambling industry, which includes state-run lotteries, casinos, sports wagering, Internet gambling, video poker, video keno and many other forms of betting, has had a significant impact on the older population. Estimates are that half of Americans over 65 gambled in the past year.

With New York preparing to undertake a major expansion of casinos, I conducted research to find ways to enhance the positive aspects of recreational gambling and reduce the risks of pathological gambling. I did this by accompanying groups of seniors on bus trips from New York to casinos in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Yes, there can be positive aspects to gambling. According to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, recreational gamblers reported better social support, lower levels of depression, higher self-health and cognitive functioning. This finding is consistent with my experiences, as the bus rides to the casinos were filled with laughter, enjoyment and friendship.

What's more, I discovered that the bus ride to the casino was also a respite for some seniors with dysfunctional home lives, especially for those who lived in fear of their spouses, families, neighbors or caregivers.

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