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Helping a retired gambler

answered 07:46 AM EST, Mon September 05, 2011
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My mother retired last year and started spending a lot of time at the casino playing slots. She tries to hide how much she plays and how much she is losing from me and my sister but it is pretty obvious that she’s got a big problem but she totally denies it and she seems ready to blow through her retirement savings in the next few months without much of a plan for after that, as far as I can see. What can I do to get her to see how bad this is getting?

Dr. Karl Benzio Says...

A child helping a mother in need is a very difficult role as it is so hard for a parent to accept help from their kids. Several items to consider. First is to get her to her Family Doctor or General Practitioner to make sure no medical issue is at play given her age. Change is difficult at any age, but especially when we are older and more set in our ways. If this is strictly a psychological issue, which it is 90% of the time, we need some information regarding her pre-retirement and then present functioning. Gambling, mood, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, alcohol, caffeine, any prescription abuse, sleep, eating and nutrition, daily routine, friendships, her faith, and family are significant areas to explore. You don't mention your father, so i am assuming she is single. Ask her about what you are noticing and what is going on inside. Retirement is stressful for most people, especially when no identity or life-fueling interests outside of the workplace have been cultivated. Hopefully she is open to meeting with a counselor who will help her with difficult transition in a new season of life. I would think an evaluation by a psychiatrist to possibly start an antidepressant to help her mood, loneliness, and hopeless/helpless feelings she seems to be struggling with. helping her find some friends, interests, and activities to rekindle with or start a new will be important. Exercise(just some regular walking is a great start, proper nutrition, and getting back into a healthy daily routine like she might have had when she is working will help her develop the discipline to stay after some of these tips. The more you, your sister, and others close to her can come around and help her start to practice these healthy tips, the sooner she can incorporate  them into a healthier lifestyle instead of the slippery slope she is currently on that you and your sister are appropriately worried about. In the end, she will really need a connection to God, as this will be the only thing that will really bring a purpose and passion to this last season of her life here, but a mere stepping stone to our life in eternity.

Thanks for your question and call us if you need some treatment options for your mom. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you, and may He give you peace. 

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Page last updated Sep 05, 2011

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