Studies reported in the American Journal for Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias found that playing bingo provides mental stimulation that is therapeutic for people with cognitive disorders. What is amazing about this study is that participating patients performed at a higher level for some time after the game had ended. According to caregivers, patients remained alert and more aware of their surroundings hours after playing bingo.
This is particularly encouraging news if your loved one lives in a nursing facility where bingo is a common afternoon activity. Before my mother-in-law moved into a memory unit, she lived in an assisted living facility where bingo was taken as seriously as a high-stakes craps game in Monte Carlo. Every afternoon just before two o’clock, the halls were filled with bingo junkies hurrying to get a prime seat up front by the ball cage. This always surprised me until I found out why. In this facility, bingo was played for money! I discovered this one afternoon when I was organizing her drawers and I found a sock filled with quarters. When I asked where she got the money, she told me it was her “stash” and that she had won it playing bingo. Talk about positive reinforcement!
Once it became too difficult for Nan to keep pace with the bingo caller, I went with her and together we marked her card. We became quite the bingo team. It didn’t matter to her whether I was helping her or not, she still loved collecting a quarter each time I told her to shout, “Bingo!”