Retirement-killing money mistakes

Playing the slots

Go to any casino and you’ll find a permanent corps of seniors, mainly women, endlessly poking coins into the slots. "A large portion of these people are depressed, and the machine is a way to self-medicate," says Suzanne Graupner Pike, founder of the San Diego Center for Pathological Gambling. The shiny, pinging machines seem to block thoughts of sickness, loneliness or mortality, she says. And casinos make it easy. "They have buses that go to the senior houses and pick up the seniors and for free transport them to the casinos," she says. "In fact, some of the casinos will even replace oxygen bottles for them." Everyone is a potential gambling addict. Of the 1,000 people she’s treated since opening the addiction center in 2003, “easily” more than 60% were senior women. "I have had people in their 80s who have lost everything," Pike says.