Did you know that December is Bingo’s birthday month? Bingo got its start way back in 1530 AD, as a kind of Italian lottery. From there it traveled to France, then on the Germany, and finally landed in the United States in 1929 where it was called “Beano.” The name was changed to “Bingo” after a mispronunciation in the heat of the moment (how embarrassing).
Bingo gets kind of a bad rap. Its reputation is linked with negative views that persist about aging. We might think Bingo is boring, or is played when a person “can’t do anything else.” Quite to the contrary, studies done on Bingo show that participation can actually have many health benefits…
The first of these is the opportunity it provides for socialization. Bingo is a fairly simple game to master. Even if you aren’t familiar with every single way to win, it is still easy to participate. Between each win, there is a mini break from the game. This is your chance to chat with your neighbor about how your day is going, or to make plans for later. You might (or might not!) also find yourself rooting for your neighbors when you see them getting close to a win. You might even be kind enough to point out a number they missed. It’s truly a community game, and a chance to build relationships.
We have found that Bingo can be used as a tool to give back to our community. We have done various forms of fundraising that got a boost from our Bingo players, including a canned food drive, and Giving Hearts Day for 4 Luv of Dogs.
River Pointe offers Bingo an average of 3 times per week. Our Bus Driver (and Resident Assistant), Christine, calls Bingo on Thursdays and every other Saturday; while all Staff rotates calling on Monday afternoons. Resident, Chuck, will often step up to call Bingo on the weekends when Christine is not here, or if a Caller becomes unavailable at the last minute. (Thanks, Chuck!) Beginning in 2018, Monday Bingo will switch to Tuesday Bingo, and our caller will be our neighbor Donna, who has volunteered at River Pointe in the past as a Walking Group leader. Whether calling, or participating, Bingo has been a great way for both Staff and Volunteers to get to know our residents. It’s an easy icebreaker.
Bingo has also been shown to increase cognitive abilities. Numbers are called at a speed that allows for understanding, but not so slow that a player can stop paying attention. Playing Bingo requires focus, and attention to detail – important for brainwork. Some research has even shown that playing Bingo can aid in short-term memory, as that is what is being tested while playing. Bingo also exercises the participant’s hand-eye coordination. Overall, it is a very mentally stimulating game.
We even get a little comic relief while playing Bingo. Our community is small, so we get to know one another. We have recurring jokes that continue at each session, and enjoy the release we feel from a good belly laugh, after a stressful round of being THIS close to winning, only to lose to someone across the table. Finding the humor in those situations is what makes it all fun.
As you can see, Bingo is not played just because we are bored, or can’t think of something else to do. We genuinely enjoy spending this time together, and that little thrill that comes from being SO close to winning. We enjoy the laughs, and the brainwork. It is something we do together, as a community, and it brings us closer.
If you’re interested in calling Bingo, or wondering about other fun and interesting activities at River Pointe, give our Community Life Coordinator, Anna Leeby, a call (218-287-6900). Or visit our Facebook page and Calendar section.
Happy 487th Birthday to Bingo! Here’s to many more…