How do you deal with a parent who has gambling problems?

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This isn't about POA or guardianship but I couldn't find a more appropriate category.


How do you deal with a parent with gambling problems? My dad has been going to the local casino for about 20 years. The way he's always described it, he wins as much as he loses. Which I didn't believe but I didn't think it was all that bad. That he had some sense about it. For a year, I made him write down how much he won or lost every time he went. It didn't seem all that bad, he said he lost about $5,000 a year. I found out that the casino would hand out a win/loss statement for the asking. I had asked my dad about this a few times before but he said they didn't. Well..... I went and asked for the last year's. He lost much more than $5,000. He lost everything he got from social security and then some. Over the years, he must have lost well into the mid 6 figures. As in half million. It's more money than he currently has in the bank. When I confronted him with this, his response was "Why did you have to look?"


He doesn't have dementia and seems to understand the loss. He just doesn't care. So what can I do to try to blunt this behavior. I can't get guardianship since he is lucid about it just stupid. I don't even want to try. He's an adult. It's his money. But still.... I feel like I should do something about all this. Is it none of my business and I should just let it go or should I do something about it. I tried limiting his visits and the amount of money he loses per visit but he cheats. He'll tell me he only loses $50 when it's really $400.

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Are you having to support him and is that why you are concerned ?
Or is this money that should pay bills and he can't pay them ?
If he has his own home it is important to check and see if his taxes are paid .
( you can do this online , it is public knowledge at the court house website for
where he lives )
He has earned this money and if he can afford it , it is his life and it's unlikely
any court will give you authority over his life but that would be an option if
he is gambling his entire life away .
Knowing anything he leaves behind can be his heirs I know it is hard if this is the case and you'd really like that . However sometimes love really isn't easy but it is right and love means pray for him if you pray , this is no surprise to God .
If he has his mind and generally is ok , he really should not have to answer to anyone and his privacy is to be respected .
Hope this helps .
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I gamble. My husband gambles. He's worked for decades. I think if my daughter called a casino for my win/loss statement and it was given to her , I would wonder why. What would give her the right? If a person gambles responsibly , and knows their limits , then it is entertainment. If I have dementia, or my husband, then it's a different story. Some people spend money on vacations. Cars , second homes So what if 2 sane 80 plus year olds who can afford to go to a casino , go to a casino?
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My Mom loves the casino too.. but since she can't drive I have to take her, or my Aunt when she is there. And I have found when I go with her ( and I ususaly take my hubs and a friend .). she is willing to leave when we are. And I can sort of keep an eye on her. But , and it's a big but.. we go with a set amount we can spend. If we are getting ahead of ourselves we take a break and eat a cheap lunch at the food court. Can you get your dad to do this? They still get the fun and thrill, but the loses are less.Luckily for me Mom also has the funds, but she is sort of frugal!!
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Thanks for the responses. I wish there was a way to quote so I could respond to all the questions. I'll have to do the best I can.

Too late to make sure he's not financially or physically reliant on me. I take care of both my parents already. Financially we are OK. I really don't want to be the keeper of his money. It's his money. Well... it's both my parents money. Yes he is gambling away their social security and some of their savings but he's not going to end up on the street. Mom also goes to the casino at times. But mainly because he wants to. Unlike him, she'll leave when I ask her to. Dad will fight.

He's well into his 80's. So... does he have another 20 years to go? Just might. Grandma, his mom, is still alive and she's into her 100's.

I tried putting a slot machine app on a tablet for him. That's what he does at the casino. It's basically the same as playing the slots except there's no real money involved. You win and lose fake money. He said it was no fun. What's the point with no money involved?

Being, how should I say it frugal, it bothers me to be just throwing away money. What really bothers me is that he looked and looks me right in the eye and lies to me about how much he loses. That it's my fault for finding out the truth instead of trusting his lies. That really bothers me.

I'll look to see if there is a local GA I can talk to. Even if he won't interact with them directly, maybe they'll have some suggestions.
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Needtowashhair,
Does he still have assets to protect? If so, I'd consult with an attorney who litigates contested Guardianship cases. The reason is that each jurisdiction has different requirements for what can be considered. Some places ask if the person is able to manage their own household. If not, they may need a Guardian. I wouldn't substitute a layman's conclusions about what can legally be done. I'd let a legal professional consider the facts and provide an opinion.

Plus, there could be something about his behavior that is driven by a medical condition. Has he had a complete physical lately? I'd try to rule out, tumors, mental illness, dementia, or some other condition.

There is a lot of work involved, if you try to intervene. It may or may not work out. Of course, you can just accept the way he is as well. That's another option. I think there are support groups for family members of people who have gambling addictions.
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How old is your dad? Does he have another 20 years to gamble? Does he have other health issues?is he taking care of his health? Your dad may be suffering from anxiety, depression or obsessive compulsive disorder in addition to the gambling addiction. Medication Could help. Just reading on line it might be beneficial if he had a therapist who understood gambling addiction. I hear you that he isn't interested in quitting. It's important for you to keep the lines of communication open. In order to do that you need guidance yourself on how to best help him. AA has Alanon for family. I'm not sure about gamblers anonymous.
Overall, IMHO, you have three issues. Dads health. His ability to provide for himself in the future and your ability to legally help him and the gambling which is entangled in all three.
I think I would visit a qualified elder attorney to see if there is anyway you can prepare for his future, take in a GA meeting to see what you can learn and talk to a qualified therapist. You could also let his Primary doctor know your concerns. Read as much as you can. There may be nothing you can do in the final analysis but educating yourself is a good start. Shaming or being angry won't help. It's got to be tough seeing him self destruct.
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He needs another hobby/joy/fun activity to replace his current one. Gambling addiction triggers same reward center of brain as any drug substance. He's likely addicted to finding his happy place at the casino, and the house edge on games plus his habits means that he will keep losing lots of money the longer this continues.

What about seeking out your local Gamblers Anonymous and asking for input from some nice people over there? In my experience, they are very helpful and kind. They may decide to visit with your dad and speak to him, and then whether or not he wants to change is up to your dad, but he'll have "buddies" who've been through chronic gambling issues to help him change course... if he wants to do that. Certainly it would be best for him to not waste his monetary means in his older years.

Just some thoughts... GA is very helpful and you can call on your local meetings/chapters any time. That's what they're there for.
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What is going to happen when he runs out of money?

Start to plan now, so that you won't be forced to take care of him, either financially or physically or both.
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Is he declaring his losses on his taxes?

How does he live? Is he going into debt, or is this savings that he's depleting. Have you ever gone to a doctor's appointment with him and mentioned his addiction?
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If he can afford what he loses he can afford it. Sometimes , people win. If he has no dementia, I think it's his call to spend his money how he chooses
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