Thursday, February 27, 2014

Casinos and Elders-A New Report

Amy Ziettlow, of the Institute for American Values (IAV), has written a recently released report, Seniors in Casino Land: Tough Luck for Older Americans.

According to the report,

IAV and its partners are conducting a series of investigations called “Casino Land: America in an Age of Inequality.” The goal is to understand the meaning and role of casinos in American life—how they work and what they do, the values they embody and transmit, their impact on civil society, their connection to government, and their relationship to the rise of American inequality. This report is a part of that series.

Ms. Ziettlow visited several casinos and "simply sat down next to strangers, asked questions, and listened." The final section of the report is titled "Why Seniors Matter" and offers an analysis of her experiences as well as a discussion of the contrasts between senior centers and casinos. As a huge fan of senior centers myself, I appreciated this recommendation from her:

Now is the time to expand upon these efforts to create environments that foster fellowship, service, physical activity, healthy eating, and quality connections between seniors and the surrounding local community. The vulnerable aging in society deserve meaningful opportunities for recreation and relaxation that reconnects them to their deepest sense of self; activities that allow them to be honest about disability and loss without being defined and crushed by that awareness, that foster growth in their physical, emotional, and spiritual capabilities. (pg. 42, citations omitted).

 A list of Ms. Ziettlow's other publications can be accessed here.  Thanks to Naomi Cahn of GW Law for sending this to me.

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I enjoyed reading Ms. Ziettlow’s article. I find myself being reminded of an “only in America” refrain: “Only in America does a homemaker hire a cleaning lady so that the homemaker’s time is freed up to go volunteer at the non-profit childcare center where the cleaning lady left her child so that she could go to work.” Only in America do we have state-sponsored casinos racking in fees and tax revenue (hopefully – as that was a justification for allowing them, correct?) to help the state pay for “issues/problems” related to seniors, such as the Medicaid needs of the elderly who have lost their precious income/savings at those very same casinos.
I’ve often thought that since a driver has to show proof of auto insurance before being able to register a automobile each year, why couldn’t those “cards” cut someone off with a maximum loss per month of $150? To be able to play longer or with more funds, you’ve got to show proof of an active Long Term Care Insurance Policy to the state, just as it wants to see proof of automobile liability. The permitted $150 ($5/day) loss provides the “entertainment” that Ms. Ziettlow indicates is the motivation to go. The on-going refrain of “it’s something to do” is indeed sad for our society.
I wonder how non-profit CCRCs handle the problem of addiction. After all, they tout the fact that they do not kick a resident out if s/he runs out of money to pay to live there “through no fault of his/her own.” Who is tracking the activities of the residents? Do CCRCs allow the casino buses on campus to pick up the interested patrons? Wouldn’t this make the Benevolent Fund more vulnerable to be depleted faster?

Posted by: Jennifer Young | Feb 28, 2014 11:06:13 AM

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