As we grow older, it becomes important to keep our minds active. Research has shown that you need consistent mental stimulation in order to maintain your brain’s plasticity. While people used to believe that plasticity declines with age, research is challenging this notion.
There are a number of ways that older brains can remain healthy and receptive to new information. At the heart of these methods is consistent and appropriate mental stimulation. Bingo, the popular board game, is particularly effective in this regard.
Today, let us explore how this simple card game acts as a mental gymnasium for the elderly.
Hold Up: How Does Bingo Actually Work?
Bingo is a relatively straightforward card game that has been around since the 16th century. Players hold a 5×5 grid card with the letters B-I-N-G-O and a set of corresponding numbers.
For instance, “B” holds numbers in the range of 1 to 15, and “I” holds 16 to 30. In this way, each letter has a range of fifteen until the final letter “O”, which holds a range of 61 to 75.
There are 75 balls that are mixed in a bingo machine. An announcer periodically picks a random ball, which has a letter and a number printed on it. For instance, “I25.”
On hearing this, players will scan their cards to check if the number exists on their card. If it does, they mark it.
There is also an objective set at the start of the game, which can include filling up the card in a specific pattern.
When you complete the required pattern, you yell “Bingo!”. The announcer then checks your card, and if the pattern is correct, you win.
The Cognitive Benefits of Playing Bingo
Playing bingo offers three key cognitive benefits for the elderly. Memory enhancement is the first one, as a major aspect of the game is remembering numbers and patterns. Studies have shown that playing bingo can boost memory among elderly people.
The second benefit has to do with concentration and attention. Speed bingo, for instance, requires you to keep track of numbers that are called out rapidly. It requires complete focus and reaction time. Playing bingo regularly can help elderly people avoid falling into lethargy and keep their minds more alert.
The third benefit involves hand-eye coordination. When the caller announces a number, you have to scan the card as fast as you can. Once you spot the number, you place a mark in the correct box. This may sound simple, but for some elderly people, it can be a good challenge.
They have to use the small muscles in their fingers and ensure they don’t smudge adjacent boxes. Thus, the coordination between listening, processing, and marking, all work together to boost hand-eye coordination skills.
The Therapeutic Effects of Bingo
As the rules of the game are simple to understand, the barrier to entry isn’t particularly high. This is why one can often see bingo being played in care homes and senior centers. Doctors are also encouraging the elderly to try bingo as a way to address feelings of isolation.
Some seniors may prefer to keep to themselves, but bingo is able to bring such people out of their shells.
Like many card games, it can also be played online. These days, many senior citizens are becoming more comfortable using technology. Visit a senior care facility, and you might be surprised at how many of them are squinting down at their iPads and iPhones.
According to Lucky.me, playing bingo online is just as simple and straightforward as playing it in real life.
An added advantage of playing bingo online is that seniors can even win money and other prizes. This can be motivating because the prizes at many care homes aren’t all that exciting.
You can find several websites that offer such monetary prizes. Starting out at Pulsz Bingo is a solid option. Their signup process and interface are straightforward enough that most elderly people should be comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many variations of the bingo game exist?
The classic version uses 75 balls, but you also have variations like:
- Speed bingo (30 balls)
- 90 ball bingo
- UK Bingo
- Swedish Bingo
- American Bingo
2. What other games can help stimulate the brains of elderly people?
Besides bingo, there are a number of other games that can be mentally stimulating, such as:
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Simple Crosswords
3. Can you play bingo on your own, or do you need other people?
While bingo is best enjoyed with other people, it is possible to play it on your own. This is primarily possible with computer-based bingo.
Bingo might seem like a simple game, but that is precisely why it is so effective. It does not have overly complicated rules that confuse and stress out seniors. Instead, it offers a perfect blend of simplicity, excitement, and challenge that keeps their minds engaged and active.
The fact that it also helps the elderly with their social lives is an added bonus. Loneliness is a serious issue that seniors have to deal with. Community bingo helps them make new friends and enjoy the companionship that they desperately need in life.
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