Bingo Provides Cognitive Benefits For Seniors Say Researchers

Until recently most doctors believed that the brain stopped making new neuron connections as people got older. Doctors believed that the memory got irreversibly worse after the body stopped developing; usually by the mid 20’s. Loss of brain function and memory was considered normal. As it turns out the doctors were wrong. The mental stimulation and exercise provided by playing bingo games has been shown to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, strengthen the memory and in many cases shorten hospital stays.

In the preface to the second edition of The Graying of America: An Encyclopedia of Aging by Donald H. Kausler and Barry C. Kausler pointed out that “playing bingo, long considered to be simply a recreational pastime for senior citizens, may actually train elderly players to improve their attentional skills.” Julie Winstone from the Centre for Visual Cognition at Southampton University’s Psychology Department did a study which showed that playing bingo can enhance the speed and precision of short-term memory and can counter some of the effects of aging. The study proved that bingo players show increased concentration and a higher level of short term memory.

In one survey which asked older bingo players what motivates them to play bingo respondents cited three main reasons; Maintains memory skills, .Improves concentration and Provides social interaction. Recently researchers from Case Western Reserve University, Boston University and Bridgewater State University studied a group of healthy senior citizens, healthy young adults, seniors with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Study participants included 19 younger adults, 14 individuals with probable Alzheimer’s disease (AD), 13 AD-matched healthy adults, 17 non-demented individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD), and 20 PD-matched healthy adults. The researchers found that when study participants played bingo games on computer screens that were adjusted for color contrast, brightness and size the scores of participants improved.

When the adjustments were made study participants with mild dementia performed as well as those unaffected with dementia. The study titled “Bingo! Externally supported performance intervention for deficient visual search in normal aging, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, has been well received and has piqued the interest of researchers studying memory loss and dementia. The study was the subject of an article published by the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation.

So far there have been very few studies of the benefits of internet bingo. Most computers provide players with the ability to change the screen in ways similar to those cited in the study. It would be interesting to see if online bingo games can provide the same benefits as live bingo games.