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Gambling and elder health

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2005 - Spring


A study by Yale researchers published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in September has found a link between good health and gambling among the elderly. Younger gamblers, however, show high rates of alcohol use and abuse, substance abuse, depression, incarceration and bankruptcy.

In a telephone survey of 2,417 adults, gamblers 65 and older were far more likely to describe their health as excellent or good, but the researchers haven’t determined why. One theory is that better health enables older people to take part in activities including gambling.

“Although the underlying reasons remain hypothetical, proposed reasons included the increased activity, socialization and cognitive stimulation that are related to engaging in gambling,” said Rani Desai, M.P.H. ’91, Ph.D. ’94, associate professor of psychiatry and public health and one of the authors of the report. “Such a mechanism would be consistent with the literature on healthy aging, which indicates that more socially and cognitively active elders are, in general, healthier.”

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