The objective of the study was to determine whether the elderly in the nursing homes would prefer the introduction of gambling as a happiness stimulant. In addition, the researchers hoped to observe the effects of happiness brought about by gambling. According to Dixon, Nastally and Waterman (2010), researchers have proved that people are nowadays living more years than they used to live before. However, there is a need to identify some factors that promote the mental and emotional conditions of the elderly. Research conducted has shown that there are positive effects of gambling on the health of an elderly person. They noted that those who frequently gambled had good physical health, lower rates of depression and had a well supporting social life.
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Yale News (2004) noted that there are relationships between good health and gambling among the elderly. This is because the elderly gamblers, unlike the younger gamblers who mix gambling with other activities like drug abuse and alcoholism, participate in gambling as a form of exercising. Therefore, gambling is a very important activity in the mental health of the elderly as it requires problem-solving skills and a higher level of concentration. In addition, elderly gamblers are active socially and this reduces rates of depression.
The actual research on the effects of gambling activities on the happiness of the elderly in nursing homes was conducted in a nursing home facility with a capacity of 159 people. Among the participants were four known gamblers. None of the four had previously shown signs of any mental illness despite all being above 80 years old. In the measure of happiness, expressions such as smiling and laughing were taken to mean happiness while others such as yelling, frowning and crying showed that the participant was unhappy.
The effects of gambling were assessed under four different conditions each day. The four conditions are baseline, stimulated gambling, 10 minutes after gambling, and 30 minutes after gambling. Each participant participated in gambling for 5, 10, and 20 minutes intervals. Observers recorded data in ten-second intervals. After the 10 minutes baseline, participants were allowed to play a simulated gambling game of their choice. The procedure was continued until all participants had been engaged in all four conditions.
The results indicated that three of the participant’s Donna, Lily and Fred chose gambling games most of the time. The three were observed to prefer gambling stimuli to people stimuli. The results further revealed that under the baseline condition the measure of happiness was almost zero. During the gambling process, all participants were observed to be very happy. The happiness was observed to remain during the first ten minutes after participating in the stimulating gambling game. 30 minutes after the game, the measure of happiness of the participant was observed to be near zero. However, no sign of unhappiness was observed among the three participants.
The findings of this research were important in measuring the happiness brought about by gambling. First, the gambling activities that the participants participated in were nonmonetary. Winning or losing had no emotional effect on the participant. According to Grant and Potenza (2004), elderly people are more likely to be affected negatively by gambling if they lose money while playing. To avoid such cases the researchers engaged the participants in free gambling games that only stimulated their minds. The methods of measurement of happiness used further stressed the need to introduce stimulating gambling games into nursing homes. This is because the results observed proved that old adults are happy when engaged in gambling games. To support this objective, the participants were known to be active in gambling and were old. Additionally, despite their old age none of the participants had a mental problem. The research failed to determine the effects of gambling on participants who had no gambling history. Further, the results showed that the participant was socially active while participating in gambling. Some of the activities that the participants were involved in while not gambling, were unhealthy, for instance, Dixon, Nastally and Waterman (2010) noted that the participants just sat and watched TV while others smoked. The elderly should exercise more at old age and avoid some behaviours which are unhealthy such as smoking.
Pierce and Cheney (2004) suggested that gambling is high-rate behaviour that stimulates and strengthens a person. When the activity is stopped the person continues to feel the effects of gambling. In addition, they also noted that losing during gambling makes one irrational and may lead to depression. However, the problem identified is not gambling, losing money is the main cause of unhappiness among gamblers. The introduction of gambling in nursing homes would bring about stimulating behaviour to the elderly.
In conclusion, the research recommends more researches to be carried out to identify activities in which the elderly can be involved to maintain good mental health. One of the activities identified is gambling. All the participants of this research were over 80 years old and none of them had a mental problem. However, the research failed to involve participants who had no gambling history.
- Dixon, M.R., Nastally, B.L., and Waterman, A. (2010). The Effect of Gambling Activities on Happiness Levels of Nursing Home Residents.
- Grant, J.E. and Potenza, M.N. (2004). Pathological gambling: a clinical guide to treatment. United States of America: American Psychiatric Pub
- Pierce W.D. and Cheney, C.D. (2004). Behaviour Analysis and Learning. USA: Routledge
- Yale News. (2004). Recreational Gambling Appears to be Associated with Good Health in Older Adults. Web.