Can Bingo really help Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients?

inner templateKeeping up with our previous article on health and bingo, we have a new entry that will provide you with more information on how this activity can help improve the health and quality of life of patients of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease.

If you have family members in senior homes, there are two fairly common sights. The first, is Bingo night, where our gray-haired loved ones gather and play their favorite game. Bingo is a part of senior citizens’ everyday life, long before they may enter a senior’s home. So naturally it becomes part of a weekly schedule.

The second common sight, unfortunately, involves patients who just can’t care for themselves. We’re talking about those who are in a long-term care facility to manage their Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, or even Parkinson’s Disease. Perhaps you have loved ones who are in some sort of care facility for this very reason. Or perhaps your loved ones enjoy their retirement community with a bit more freedom to come and go.

Whatever the case, for a long time, it was thought these two concepts were mutually exclusive. You either played Bingo and enjoyed doing so. Or you played Bingo but you really didn’t know what was going on due to your ailment.

But new research suggests that playing Bingo can actually help people with diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia.

In a recent study reported in the Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition journal, findings suggest that Bingo can lead to improved performance across and healthy and afflicted groups. In a nutshell, Bingo helped cognitive function.

As people get older, they start to lose sensitivity to perceive contrasts. Those with dementia experience an even more intensified version of this sensitivity. Researchers wanted to see if Bingo could slow down this process.

The Bingo health study findings

In the study, researchers used a number of different Bingo cards of various sizes, contrasts, and visual complexities. Their goal was to discover how visual perception problems impact cognitive abilities. In the study were:

  • 19 younger adults
  • 14 individuals with probable Alzheimer’s Disease
  • 12 Alzheimer’s-matched healthy adults
  • 17 non-demented individuals with Parkinson’s disease
  • 20 Parkinson’s disease-matched healthy adults

In the study, the participants played Bingo on computer-generated Bingo cards. Those conducting then study manipulated the cards to adjust brightness, contrast, size, and other factors. Here’s what they found:

  • Those with dementia were able to perform at similar levels of their healthy peers
  • Those with severe dementia didn’t experience much change

This suggests that boosting the contrast both in the environment and at the table can help those with dementia (particularly those who can no longer distinguish between objects that are similar in contrast) to move about their homes safely. It also suggests that boosting contrast could help those with dementia improve their eating.

To put it in easier to understand terms, placing a black recliner in a white room would improve the contrast of the room and allow people to navigate the room easier than if the room were mostly white. In terms of eating, foods that contrasted with the color of the plate would lead to patients eating more food.

Bingo, accuracy, and reaction times

The results from the Bingo study are intriguing, but not entirely surprising. Another recent study suggests that playing Bingo can help seniors improve their cognitive awareness and sharpen their minds. In the study, those who played Bingo were more accurate at daubing numbers than their younger counterparts who didn’t play Bingo. While the younger players were faster at daubing numbers, the seniors tended to be more accurate.

It should be noted that the seniors in this particular study weren’t inflicted with dementia, Parkinson’s, or some other ailment that might hinder their accuracy or response time. However, it does give hope to those who play Bingo, and in particular their loved ones who want to see these senior citizens remain sharp as attack in their golden years.

The Bingo healthcare robot

It seems as though when it comes to healthcare research in senior citizens, Bingo is the first place researchers look. And it’s not just about studying their reaction times. It’s also about helping them through innovations.

Tangy is a Bingo robot created at the University of Toronto. She’s being used to call Bingo games at the O’neill Centre long-term care facility in Toronto, but Tangy’s implications are far reaching. The robot is designed to draw balls and recognize issues during Bingo games, but it could eventually be used to assist patients at meal time and even help with medical related concerns.

Online Bingo and seniors

With Bingo taking center stage in senior healthcare, many are starting to ask what role online Bingo can play. While there is no proof that playing online Bingo can help you keep Alzheimer’s at bay, there is some interesting research out there that suggests using a computer could help ward off dementia.

Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University have just discovered that the infrequent use of a computer could mean an early decline in cognitive abilities.

Without going into too much detail, the study revolves around the hippocampus. This is the area of our brains that is important for memory function. Researchers believe that the size of the hippocampus can predict the development of dementia. A smaller hippocampus is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. But new research suggests that adding an extra hour of computer use every day is associated with a 0.25% larger hippocampal volume. Using this factor, researchers conclude that low computer use could lead to a decline.

This isn’t to suggest that computers have some magical ability to suddenly increase the size of your hippocampus. But some researchers believe that using a computer requires people to use multiple parts of their brain at the same time, including memory, attention, and executive function. This could be good for the brain, and therefore playing online Bingo could potentially have some benefits.

If you want to get started with online Bingo, or if you want to introduce your senior loves ones to the game online, you can create a free account at 123BingoOnline.com right now. It’s free to set one up and Bingo rooms are always open, so come play.