Two little ducks -- 22. Man alive -- number 5. Buckle my shoe -- 32. The language of bingo may suggest that it is a light-hearted bit of fun, and an evening's entertainment with the chance of winning a few pounds. While this is certainly true, bingo also has other benefits, particularly for cognitive function in elderly players.
The process of playing bingo involves the simultaneous use of several faculties. The player listens to the caller, scans the card for the corresponding number and employs hand-eye coordination to mark it.
Elderly people benefit from the need to concentrate on the game, often for long periods of time. The caller reads out the numbers and the players must remain aware of what has been called and apply it to their bingo cards. Concentration is required to avoid missing a number that may be crucial to winning.
The atmosphere in a bingo hall combined with the prospect of winning some money prompts excitement in players. Feelings of excitement and pleasure cause serotonin to be released in the brain, making the individual feel happier.
The deterioration of brain function in old age may not simply be due to the decline in cell strength, but a result of lack of use. New neural pathways in the brain can be generated regardless of age. Any mental activity that stimulates the brain, including bingo, helps maintain and strengthen the brain's functioning.
Besides these cognitive benefits, attending bingo in a public place gives elderly people a chance to socialise with their contemporaries and those of different ages. Elderly people are sometimes cut off from their community through lack of mobility. Regular attendance at a bingo game helps alleviate social isolation.