Age and Bingo go hand in hand. Visit just about any senior center and you’ll see at least one group of people gathered round a table, eagerly spinning the wheel and calling out numbers. Bingo has been called “the ultimate game for seniors” because it’s simple to play, doesn’t require much energy, doesn’t require vision or agility, and is just plain fun. While seniors may be older and frailer than some other groups of players, Bingo is a game they can play as an enjoyable, noncompetitive activity.
According to caretakers in nursing homes, here’s why seniors love Bingo:
Bingo requires a small group of people to play. It keeps old folks out of trouble and helps them make new friends. We know that there are lots of other ways to keep people busy and happy, but Bingo makes for a good 10 minute “meeting” as the game shifts from one number to the next. Socializing with others is one of the ways old folks enjoy their last moments, and they seem to know that.
It challenges your memory
Bingo can help seniors think creatively and remember various items (often words and phrases) that are shared among a group of players. Bingo is also a good way for seniors to enjoy themselves and while playing, they’ll learn new words. If you’ve got some youngsters who are playing Bingo too don’t be surprised if they start coming back with interesting words they’ve learned from you. Research has found that seniors who engage in other activities besides staying in bed all day (like gardening, reading or even cooking) have less cognitive decline than those who don’t do anything at all. Bingo is like checking off one more non-bedtime activity that can help protect brain health as you age.
It’s a great way to pass the time when you’re bored
Bingo is soothing and provides an alternative to doing nothing or watching TV. The cards are small, colorful and easy to grasp, which reduces the risk of falling or dropping them on the floor. It’s a good way to give your fingers something to do, which keeps the activity from becoming boring. Some seniors are not able to walk or move around much anymore; playing Bingo helps them use their fingers and think, even if they can’t get to the potty on time.
Bingo keeps old folks from getting bored with the same old games. It gives them a break from their physical therapy routines throughout the day, and encourages them to interact with others in a healthy way, which prevents social isolation. It also does some good for older adults’ cognitive function because it helps prevent all of that downtime from turning into “senior moments,” where you forget where you put your keys or what you did yesterday after lunch.
When people play Bingo, they often compete for prizes. The fun comes from challenging your memory and trying to remember numbers and letters when they’re called out. In this way, Bingo can actually help seniors stay healthy as they get older because it encourages them (and their families) to go see a doctor or a therapist if something is wrong. It also keeps them socializing with others, which helps them feel more independent than if they were just sitting around all day by themselves.
We can’t forget that Bingo requires people to walk to different parts of the room; it’s not just sitting at one table in front of the TV or computer all day. Any competitive activity keeps older adults active and engaged. “When you’re competitive,” says healthcare provider Norman Van Cott, “you’re happier, and you do better.”
Many senior centers offer free bingo games or for a very low cost, which helps to keep Bingo an affordable activity for families or free of charge in nursing homes. Plus, seniors love the little prizes that come with each round of Bingo (like gift cards). Items like these can help seniors feel a little more independent and capable when they’re in assisted living or a nursing home. Bingo can also be played online with friends and family, which is great for those who can’t travel to a senior center to play.
It’s easy to learn
Because Bingo is a simple game, it’s easy for seniors of different ability levels to play. If you’re unskilled at other games or card games, you’ll find that Bingo is a good game to learn. You can even work on your visual memory by focusing on cards and words during the game instead of trying to figure out how many cards are in the deck or what words there are in your bingo card. Anyone can play Bingo!
It can help reduce stress and build self esteem
Bingo is a good activity because it doesn’t require much focus or concentration which reduces stress and helps you stay calm during the game. It’s also a good activity to build self esteem because players often win prizes, which bring a smile to their faces and make them feel cherished. It builds confidence for older adults who might not be able to walk around or get to the bathroom on their own anymore.
A relaxed mind is a happy mind, which can help keep seniors from getting depressed in their sunset years. Bingo is also a great activity for anyone who loves playing games but doesn’t want to play something competitive. It’s an easy way to socialize with others and make new friends without doing much more than listening to numbers being called out by the Bingo caller or following along with your letters in a bingo card.
It’s a way to practice healthy habits for your mind
Bingo is a great game to play if you have cognitive function issues like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease because it encourages socializing and interaction with others. Even if you get Bingo wrong every time, you still have other players around you who are happy because they won something for themselves. It’s an easy activity to do with an outstanding social aspect that can help seniors reduce stress and improve their minds even if they’re in assisted living or a nursing home.
Image Credits: Mick Haupt