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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bingo Brings More than Fun to the Table for Seniors

As it turns out Bingo is more than just a fun activity. Researchers have found that playing bingo has multiple health benefits for the elderly. It takes concentration - which improves listening and short term memory skills and it promotes socialization - which is essential for seniors to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.  So if your elderly loved one likes to play bingo, it can be an excellent way to promote mental, emotional, and physical health. This may be a good way to get your loved one motivated and interested in other activities.

Bingo is the American version of a game that originated as an Italian Lottery called “Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia” that was all the rage dating back as far as the mid-1500s. When the game reached North America in 1929 it was known as “beano” but later renamed bingo after a caller yelled out "BINGO" instead of beano. Bingo is a big mainstay at local senior and community centers all across the US. Many fire companies hold weekly bingo to raise much needed funds. 

Cognitive Benefits of Bingo

With the concentration and listening skill it takes to play bingo, one's cognitive abilities are sharpened. Who couldn’t benefit from that? Since the game requires alertness to hear the numbers and remember that information to transfer it to the cards they are playing, it improves memory.  Researchers at the University of Southampton found that bingo players had better results in tests of memory, speed, and cognitive function than those who do not play the game, regardless of their age. Significant improvement in hand-eye coordination occurs with many seniors due to the speed required and the repetitive nature of the game. Even seniors with dementia issues have shown improvement. Using larger cards with larger and bolder type and a high contrast in color improve thinking skills and memory among patients with dementia issues including Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease.

Social Perks of Bingo

Lack of socialization will have a negative impact on one’s health and wellbeing, especially for older persons. Being social can reduce stress, depression and anxiety while increasing ones physical health. Seniors who participate in regular social activities tend to live longer and have healthier lives. Becoming part of a regular bingo group provides the opportunity to stay acquainted with friends and even make some new ones. Bingo is a safe and fun environment in which to connect.  Connecting with others gives a senior something to look forward to as well as a purpose.  Statics show that seniors who maintain social interaction have a much slower decline mentally and physically than those who do not. 

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Rules and Fun Bingo Facts

Although regulations will vary from one facility to another there will be similarities. Following these simple Rules of Etiquette and Bingo Tips will help make your outing a success:

The rules are usually posted, so be sure to know the specifics before starting. Or there may be handouts listing rules or special bingo events.  Arrive early and be sure to ask questions before it starts.

Examples of some of the rules: Must be 18 years of age; no food or drinks at the table; etc.

The most important tip of all: Hold conversation for in between the games. It is distracting to be talking when someone is listening for the call of the next number.

  • Never clear your card until the bingo has been verified and a winner is announced
  • Paying close attention will allow you to be sure that you have a bingo and not call out falsely. This antagonizes others, especially if they cleared their card only to find out it was a false bingo. When you do have bingo be sure to call it out loud enough so that you can be heard
  • Do not repeat the call out loud. Some bingo players have a habit of repeating the called number while they search their cards. This can be very distracting to the people around you
  • Be aware of bingo superstitions. Some people believe that certain seats are lucky and want to sit in the same spot week after week. Others will bring a display of lucky items such as a rabbit’s food, stuffed animals, etc.
  • Pay attention to the caller very carefully. Both you and your neighbor may miss the next number called if you have to ask what the caller said. Not to mention how annoying this may be to others
  • Do not vent your frustrations on the caller. Remember it is a game of chance and not everyone wins. If there is a genuine problem like not being able to hear, ask politely, “Louder please” or “Slow down, Please”


If a facility allows you to bring your own bingo supplies there are many online suppliers. You can purchase cards that are designed for those with vision or memory problems or arthritic hands. Replacing the beans and corn that were used in the early days as bingo chips (to cover the number on the card) are daubers and slider cards. The daubers are a bottle filled with liquid and when turned upside down and a small daub to the card it will cover the number but allow it to still be visible. A much faster and more effective way since the dot will not move or slide off the number if you bump your card. Great invention! The slider card allows you to slide a see through red window over the number called. As mentioned earlier you can purchase cards that are designed with larger and bolder numbers for the visually impaired. There are many online bingo sites in which to play in home bingo such a Gamesville.

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However, this would mean that you would have to have some computer knowledge and /or get someone to help you set it up. Some sites offer free bingo and some may have a fee attached.

To help you find a Bingo facility or Bingo game near you check with your local community centers, churches and fire companies or visit a bingo locator such as Your Guide to Gaming Locations. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to see if they may have knowledge of these events in your area.

See Also:

Elderly Romance

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Gift Ideas for Seniors

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