Who doesn’t love Bingo? Individuals of all ages can share enjoyment and friendly competition in a classic game of Bingo, but the game is especially popular among older adults. A program developed at Western Kentucky University, Bingocize ® combines the beloved game with nutrition education and exercise to help reduce falls and improve the health and well-being of older adults.
Bingocize® at CICOA Meals & More Neighborhood Sites
CICOA is now piloting Bingocize®, with the intention of expanding it to more neighborhood meal sites in Central Indiana. Research suggests that participating in the program increases lower- and upper-body strength, mental cognition and fall prevention awareness.
“Bingocize® is a successful preventative health promotion program designed to increase the physical fitness, health knowledge, and social engagement of older adults,” state the developers of the program. The program began in 2011 and is now being implemented by organizations nationwide. Additionally, Bingocize® has been included in the Evidence-Based Falls Prevention Program of the United States Administration for Community Living.
What do you do at Bingocize®?
I recently had the opportunity to attend a Bingocize® session. The program was in week 7, so participants were acclimated with the instructor and program format, and they were certainly excited to be there! The session started with a fun trivia question to get the participants thinking. Then they began the Bingo game. After calling several Bingo numbers, the instructor discussed the DASH diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – one of many nutrition topics introduced at Bingocize®. Other topics discussed throughout the program include:
- Various nutrients – such as calcium and vitamin D for bone health, and vitamin B12 for red blood cell formation and neurological function
- Fiber – for digestive health and reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Protein – to maintain muscle mass
- Healthy food choices and hydration – to promote overall health including heart, bone, and cognitive health; support immune system; reduce weakness; and accommodate needs associated with chronic conditions, various medications, the aging process, etc.
- Budget-friendly shopping
After the nutrition education and a pop quiz, the Bingo game continued. The instructor next introduced some physical activity. An important aspect of Bingocize® is to prevent falls among older adults, so the physical activity component is designed to build strength, balance, and maintain muscle mass. Exercises included:
- Heel raises, single leg balance, seated crunches
- Walking in place, various dance moves (i.e. grapevine), body/trunk twist
- Stretching and hand exercises
Exercise at Your Own Pace
The Bingocize® session began with a warm up and ended with a cool down. The instructor provided water and encouraged everyone to keep breathing and take breaks throughout the session. Participants can complete the exercises either sitting or standing, allowing them to participate at their own pace and ability. They can use therapy balls and resistance bands, as well. During the warm up, participants worked on ankle strength by writing their name with their ankle. As one participant noted, “Writing our names keeps the mind working – it’s better than just doing circles!”
The instructor discussed specific aspects of fall prevention. For example, one of the pop quiz questions involved the statistic that “Mild hearing loss can triple the risk of falls.” The participants knew a lot about fall prevention—answering every question correctly—no doubt the result of their 7-week participation in Bingocize®.
Everyone’s a winner
By the end of our session, multiple individuals had achieved “BINGO,” and all winners received a prize. It occurred to me, though, that every participant left a winner. They experienced several minutes of physical activity, nutrition education, fall prevention, and perhaps most importantly, socialization. The participants were so lively and energetic – they spent the entire session joking with each other and with the instructor. I had fun, and I didn’t even play!
The variety of information and activity, paired with a classic game of Bingo, is truly a great experience for all involved, but especially for the older adults who are reaping the benefits of healthier aging. I hope that this pilot program will translate into the implementation of Bingocize® at more locations across our area. Then, more individuals can experience Bingocize®, reduce their fall risk, and enjoy increased quality of life.