Problem Gambling can have a devastating effect on individuals and families. Older adults can face many difficulties when their adult child has developed a gambling problem. For many, a quick and easy solution to the financial problems would seem to involve paying the gambler’s debts. This strategy is not recommended as it is rarely effective over time. Many problem gamblers will return to gambling once the financial problems have been resolved with the belief that they won’t get into the same financial trouble again and, if they do, someone will bail them out again.

People with gambling problems have a high probability of relapsing. Promises to stop gambling usually do not last and most will return to gambling. You can’t control your adult child’s gambling behaviour, but you can limit their access to your money for gambling. Do not give or loan money to a child that has a gambling problem. The best way for you to help them is to give them support and encouragement to seek help, either with a professional counsellor or a self-help group such as Gamblers Anonymous.

In many families with elderly parents, adult children often have power of attorney over their parents’ finances. If your son or daughter has power of attorney and you suspect they have developed a gambling problem, it is important to end that arrangement before the gambler accesses your savings to fund their gambling addiction. Talk to someone you trust so that your savings and your family assets are protected.