I am going to deviate a bit here from my normal rants and raves and talk about the game of BINGO. We recently were able to attend a game of bingo. The thought was that we would be away from the house for a few hours.  The reality of the situation was that (1) the game was being held several hours away and (2) we did not know that the game itself lasted 4, yes, I said 4 hours! We left the house at 3:30 PM and did not return until about midnight. Good news though is that this old codger was not driving, and so the drive to and from was not my concern and we had a good night of it.

Some might wonder what it is about BINGO that excites people, especially senior citizens. Well, let’s just stop and think about that for a moment.  During this venture out the other night to play BINGO which by the way I haven’t played in years, one discovers that you will find various different age groups enjoying playing bingo. It is true though that the game is especially popular among older adults and being the old fart that I am, I have to admit, playing the games offered was quite enjoyable. The game can be played at home with loved ones, in a community setting such as we do in our 55+ park or going to a game such as the one we went to the other evening sponsored by the Orange City Lions Club. And when you get right down to it, bingo can offer senior citizens a variety of benefits that we should be seeking as we enter our twilight years.

Think of some of the benefits playing BINGO offers us seniors. The first one that comes to mind that some may not even think of is coordination. Let’s face it, there is not a statement that is as true as the one we have heard most of our adult lives and that statement is: “Use it or lose it!”  If we seniors do not continually engage in activities that require us to use our hands, well we may just lose our hand-eye coordination. One may not think it but believe it or not – bingo is a fast-paced game (even more so when the caller is one that calls out the numbers faster than other callers do). Players must be quick to mark a number that has been called on their cards as quickly as possible. Attending bingo games regularly enables seniors to enhance their hand-eye coordination which can prevent mobility-related issues later in life. Such action can also enable the senior citizen to enjoy a higher quality of life.

BINGO can also assist seniors become more perceptive which can help them in later years. Think about it – we all know that as we age, almost every part of us slows down including the brain. Playing bingo requires the player (we seniors) to listen to the caller, watch the cards (I am amazed at times the number of cards some seniors have in front of them during a game of BINGO), and be able to mark the numbers called with the Dauber. Just think of the numerous functions that have to be executed within seconds of each other. As we get older we are reminded that we need to stretch our bodies, perform strength building exercises, do cardio exercises and so forth to keep the body healthy. Well, I am here to tell you that playing bingo as well as other games creates new neural pathways and boosts brain functions. That is a good thing because what good is a healthy body if the mind is weak. It has been said that bingo players demonstrate better cognitive functions when compared to others that do not play the game.

Even though BINGO may not seem to be a game that enhances physical health, that is not entirely true. Especially so if the game is being played away from the seniors’ home turf. After all, how do the seniors get to where the games are being played? Depending on where the game is being played, the senior citizen has to either walk or drive to the facility thus giving them some physical activity. Another feature of going to play bingo is the senior citizen usually participates in conversation with others around them during game play and in many cases, laughter ensues from the conversation. What does laughter do – it causes the muscles to relax thus minimizing physical discomfort (who among you can admit to having no physical discomfort during these, our twilight years). I know that speaking for myself, the older I get the more aches and pains I am finding with my body. By the way, laughter also increases the heart rate which also enhances blood circulation…..yet another good benefit from bingo.

Another benefit of going out and playing bingo is the fact that it encourages the senior citizen to get out and enjoy the company of others which is yet another part of the socialization process we are told we seniors must do to ward off depression and other unhealthy attributes that come along with not being in the company of others for long stretches of time. It has been proven that there are more seniors than we think that are older adults living alone and by attending bingo games on a regular basis, chances are that they will meet friends and/or make new acquaintances by being in the company of others out playing bingo. By getting out and socializing on a regular basis chances are these senior citizens will not feel isolated and the individual may not succumb to becoming depressed and lonely.

We all know, leastways those of us that have already retired, that once retired, we tend to have a lot of time on our hands. By not having something to do with our hands and/or minds such as hobbies and/or activities, it might be quite easy to become bored and subsequently subject to either emotional or psychological problems. Who needs that at our age? By going out and playing bingo on a regular basis gives some seniors something to look forward to (we ourselves like to line dance and look forward to our Wednesday and Friday sessions of line dancing). Not only does it provide us with physical exercise but it also gives us the chance to connect with other people. While I haven’t been to too many bingo games over the last few years, if attending bingo games is anything like our Saturday morning coffee and donuts get-togethers, conversations at a typical game of bingo can range from comparing medical conditions (whose ailments are worse than the others) to discussing families (haven’t seen my kids in years as compared to the senior citizen that says he or she wishes theirs wouldn’t visit as often) to current events and I won’t even go any further on that subject. Usually this opportunity creates a greater sense of well-being because no matter how bad we think we might have it, when discussing others’ lives, chances are you will always find someone who has it worse off than you do.

Bingo also has other good benefits. Within our park there always seems to be someone coming home from the hospital, going to the hospital, or coming home from physical therapy. Playing bingo, believe it or not, may assist with the recovery process whether we are talking emotionally, physically, or psychologically. Who knows, it may  boost the immune system thus speeding up the healing process. Weirder things have been known to happen. What with all I have said up to this point, one thing playing bingo does, it does keep you sharp and if you have to spend all your time staying alert – who has time to think of all the other non-fun things happening in ones’ life.

Until next time!

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