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Pathways to late-life problematic gambling in seniors: A grounded theory approach
journal contributionposted on 2022-11-02, 03:20 authored by C Tira, Alun Jackson, J E Tomnay
Purpose of the Study: To develop a grounded theory on how older adults, who may not have previously experienced gambling issues, come to develop gambling problems in later life. Design and Methods: Through semistructured in-depth interviews with 31 adults aged 56-85, routes that led the current sample of older adults to develop late-life gambling problems were identified and mapped into coherent pathways using a constructivist grounded theory methodology. Results: Three main pathways to late-life problematic gambling were identified, all linked with a common theme of isolation: a grief pathway associated with unresolved losses; a habit pathway associated with habituation to gambling; and a dormant pathway marked by preexisting behavioral excess or impulsivity. Overall, unresolved losses and/or mismanagement of life's stresses were found to be the most significant predictors of late-life problematic gambling. Implications: As late-life problem gambling appears to predominantly signify late-life emotional distress and an attempt to deal with this distress using gambling as an escape, it is crucial for problem gambling prevention programs to raise awareness about the processes of loss and grief and provide ideas about constructive loss management. In addition, community-level recreational and social opportunities to combat isolation are identified.