More Than Just Bingo: Teaching Students About Problem Gambling in Later Life

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Often instructors in gerontology skip or gloss over topics that are considered challenging to teach, whether the difficulty is lack of knowledge on the subject or a topic that might be considered immoral, morbid, icky or “taboo.” In previous AGHE conferences, participants have asked for information regarding instruction/teaching strategies focusing on risky behaviors within the aging community. This symposium answers these questions by exploring four risky behavior areas: Gambling, Sexuality, Alcohol, and Rx or illicit drug use. The initial presentation utilizes interactive learning strategies in teaching students about problem gambling in later life, and assist students in moving from myth to reality on older adults and problem gambling. Students, like most people, have an unrealistic view of gambling in later life, and often misunderstand gambling as an addiction. Types of gambling older adults engage in, from scratch tickets to group casino trips, are overlooked. Finally, older gambling addicts face unique issues such as a lack of options for recuperating lost savings and a lack of age specific treatment options. The second presentation focuses on sexuality in older adults, specifically risky behaviors which increase sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The presenter will discuss the use of critical thinking exercises to help students identify why older adults are at higher risk for infection, what consequences may occur, and why misdiagnosis or non-diagnosis may occur. Prior students have noted sexual history/partners/sexual behaviors questions are not found on intake forms within clinical settings. The third presentation discusses alcohol abuse within the aging population utilizing case studies. Alcohol is the most frequently abused substance among adults over 50, and is the most common reason for older adults’ admission to addiction treatment. Nearly 3% of adults aged 50 or older are either dependent on or regularly abuse alcohol, and nearly 10% of adults aged 55 to 64 report episodic binge drinking in the past month. A leading cause of disability worldwide, alcohol dependence or alcoholism is undoubtedly an aging issue. The final risky behavior is related to Rx/illicit drug use by older adults utilizing simulation exercises. Students are often reluctant to realize that their parents or grandparents may be using or abusing drugs. Recent research shows dramatic increases in the use of illicit drugs by older females. Prescriptions are the second most abused substance among women over 50. Additionally, this group had the highest hospital admission for illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or opiates.


Association for Gerontology in Higher Education Annual Meeting (AGHE)


Long Beach, CA