Why Bingo is Actually Good for You
We’ve all heard the stereotype about old people and bingo. Admit it – you dread the day that bingo becomes all you have to look forward to in your sad, empty life. You might think bingo is synonymous with death – because if bingo is your life’s purpose mightn’t you just as well be dead?
But what if bingo is not the end of life? What if it’s a joyful part of a different phase in your life?
I have worked in Assisted Living for five years and believe me, there was a time when I hated bingo as much as anyone else. What I could never figure out was how bingo – the very bane of my existence as an Activity Director – could be so loved by my residents? After all, the greatest sin in the Activity Department is to cancel a game of bingo. This game is every bit as vital to a healthy assisted living community as the quality of the food. But why? What I’m about to say may shock you…
Bingo is actually good for you.
I know, I know. It’s hard to believe. But hear me out.
If you are reading this article and agree with what I’ve said so far, chances are you’re still healthy enough to lead a full life outside an Assisted Living facility. You are actively involved with friends and family. You work or volunteer. You have hobbies and, thanks to your sharp mental faculties, you are capable of enjoying them. You don’t need bingo to enhance your quality of life because the quality of your life is just fine the way it is. But many residents in Assisted Living do need bingo.
This is why:
If you’ve ever sat in on a bingo game in Assisted Living, you may have noticed the laughter in the eyes of the players. They are having a ball. For older people this is essential to good health. Laughter, often called the best medicine, reduces stress and boosts the immune system.
Something to Look Forward To
Like laughter, having something in life to look forward to is a great stress reducer and booster of the immune system. People who have something to look forward to – even if it’s bingo – are less likely to suffer from depression or fall ill.
Life purpose is crucial to happiness. Without something to work for many of us would feel adrift on a sea of hopelessness. Unfortunately, as we grow older we often lose our purpose. Children become adults and don’t need us anymore. We retire from our jobs. We might lose our spouses or our driver’s licenses. Bingo gives purpose back to many people in Assisted Living. It gives them something to work at and win. Many save their winnings (usually candy or quarters) and dole them out to visiting grandchildren. There is no greater purpose in the life of a grandparent than to appear magical to a beloved child.
Bingo brings people together. Many residents who refuse to leave their rooms for exercise, music or meals will still come to bingo. This social aspect, often overlooked, is probably one of the game’s greatest benefits to an Assisted Living community. It allows people to stay connected and gives them a sense of belonging.
Believe it or not, bingo is actually good for your brain. It allows you to flex your concentration muscle and stimulates hand-eye coordination. Also, according to the University of Southampton’s psychology department, bingo players are faster and more accurate than non-bingo players in tests that measure memory, mental speed and ability to absorb and retain certain kinds of information. Bingo is more than just fun and games after all.
Maybe it’s time that we cut bingo a little slack. When you consider the benefits for older people you have to admit it’s a worthwhile venture. Nobody is saying YOU have to play. But, then again, it might not be such a bad idea.