I’m talking about National Bingo Month. Yes, it makes me cry because I’ve lost so much money. Just kidding!! I don’t even gamble, but I thought that it would be more interesting. Here in the United States December is National Bingo Month. A whole month!!!
To find out more than you ever wanted to know about Bingo and its history and variations visit Brownielocks and The 3 Bears. I actually found the information interesting. But, when I first read the words “National Bingo Month,” I laughed and then, I thought about how much I enjoyed my clients and senior citizens playing Bingo and I cried. (I am not going to write about the competitive world of Bingo, fund-raising or its associated addictions.)
For 17 years, I worked with clients, which for me means adults with developmental disabilities such as mental retardation, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and other conditions that cause some type of substantial disability. In addition to that, my caseload also was more than 50% with a developmental disability and psychiatric disorder and/or medically fragile. I absolutely loved being a social worker. Everyone had varying degrees of abilities. Some could live on their own, be married, raise children and others needed total assistance and everything in between.
I cried because I thought about how much joy Bingo brings to so many people. Almost anyone of any abilitiy level and age can play even if they need a little assistance. It was serious friendly competition in the senior centers and nursing homes. The people who participated became more animated and happy. It was their social time. It also helps with maintaining or improving fine and gross motor skills and cognition. The prizes are fun to win.
Prizes were especially a great thing in California. A few years ago, if you lived in a nursing home without private payments, you basically had $35.00 for personal and incidental expenses for a month which was supposed to cover clothing, hair cuts, cigarettes, medications that were not covered (or you went without), snacks, outings, magazines, books, a television, a radio, your own pillow and bedding, non-instituionalized grooming and hygiene products. Basically, the only thing that was paid for you was the staff, medical needs, your bed and meals. Everything else came out of your $35.00 a month. Think about if that were you. Many nursing facility staff often paid out of their own pocket or donated services or extras many of whom were being paid minimum wage. The prizes often were things that they really wanted for fun.
With my clients, as well as those who were not clients, participated in senior center activities and resided in nursing homes, almost everyone could play Bingo regardless of understanding or motor skills because an aid or volunteer would assist them. For some, they were able to be excited about getting to place a chip on the card or moving the slide over and just having someone be excited for them helping. Other clients assisted each other, thus, improving self esteem, social skills. It also provide a way for me to have fun with them and to monitor for increases or decreases in attention span, ability to focus, changes in mood, cognitive changes and motor skill changes.
Most of all, I enjoyed watching people have genuine fun and to become excited. To have meaningful social interaction. And especially to have more one-on-one attention. Have you ever thought about volunteering at a nursing home? It is quite rewarding and brings much joy to everyone. People in nursing homes often feel discarded, forgotten, useless, or do not have family involvement or worse family who take advantage of their finances, so even having a special visitor once a month is meaningful.
Everyone enjoys extra attention especially when they become older especially in Western countries where the elderly are not regarded highly. Or if you’ve had a disability your whole life, you get lots of attention when you are cute and young. However, start to age with the disability and see how many people remain in your life or want to spend time with you.
Consider volunteering, at a nursing home, it also insures better quality of care because more eyes are at the facility. Maybe, you have a special talent, but none is required…just showing up does a world of good. Do you sing, dance, play an instrument, can you paint finger or toe nails, help style hair, apply make up, paint, watch a movie and talk about it, go to a movie, go out to eat, or just simply sit and listen or talk with someone making them feel special? I cry because it inspires my heart and I want so much more dignity given to our older people and those with disabilities!
If you do decide to volunteer, try to do it during the non-holiday part of the year because many events occur and it is when all social services and places for special care needs are filled with holiday givers. But, what about the rest of the year when it is needed the most. That is when people in need are forgotten. Don’t forget those who are out of our sight. Make it a family event. We are all just an accident or illness away from being one that needs special care. So, let Bingo make you cry when you see the delighted faces including yours making a difference in the garden of life!!
What do you think about making a difference in the garden of life?
Would you be willing to volunteer or what do you do now?
All comments welcomed in the flower garden!!
**I thought this was going to be about Bingo?