Gambling Preferences and Reactions in Elderly Residents of Nursing Homes With a History of Depression

Gambling involves risking something of value, usually money, on the outcome of a game of chance. This can be done in a variety of ways, from placing a bet on a sports event with friends to playing fruit machines and scratchcards. The main reason people gamble is for the excitement and rush of winning, but it can also be a way to escape from negative emotions or relieve boredom. It is important to recognise the signs that someone may have a gambling problem and get them help as soon as possible.

People who gamble often hide their addiction from family and friends, lying about how much they are spending or hiding their money. They may start to show erratic behaviour, become aggressive or depressed and even stop caring about the health of their loved ones. In some cases, they may try to’make up’ for lost money by buying expensive presents or investing in more gambling activities.

Gambling can be harmful to people of all ages and backgrounds. However, older people who are coping with depression or poor concentration are at increased risk of becoming addicted to gambling (Moore et al, 2007). It is therefore vital that the preferences for and reactions to gambling in this population are understood. The objective of this study was to assess the preference for and reaction to gambling in elderly residents in long-term care facilities with a history of depression or other mental health problems.

In this study, three elderly residents of a 159-bed nursing home were given the opportunity to participate in a lottery-style game that involved placing bets on numbers drawn by computer. All of the residents had a history of depression or other cognitive impairment, but they did not have any dementia. Participants were given a choice of which game they wanted to play and how much they would like to wager. A control group of residents who did not have a history of depression or poor concentration was also included in the study.

Results showed that the participants in the study liked gambling and tended to place bets higher than those in the control group. However, there was no significant difference in the likelihood of winning between the groups. The results indicate that the preference for and reaction to gambling is similar between those with and without a history of depression or other cognitive impairment. However, it is vital that the preferences and reactions of these individuals are further studied before allowing gambling on a large scale in long-term care facilities.

It is important to note that research on gambling and gambling disorders is difficult, due to the difficulty of conducting controlled examinations in this population. Additionally, research scientists, psychiatrists and other treatment care clinicians tend to frame the issues around gambling from different paradigms or world views. This has stimulated debate and controversy in the literature. Despite the difficulties, some key themes have emerged. These include: recreational interest, diminished mathematical skills, poor judgment, and cognitive distortions or false beliefs (Gilbert, 2002). This article explores the nature of the gambler’s dilemma and provides some suggestions for helping a person who is struggling with problem gambling.