GO! See Me Water The Garden With BINGO Tears!

Posted on December 1st, 2008 by Clinically Clueless

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.

Moving on…

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?

17 Responses to “GO! See Me Water The Garden With BINGO Tears!”

  1. A/C says:

    GDay CC

    I used to volunteer at the kids school, teaching Art… we entered several art shows and a few kids won prizes with the work we had done… very proud moment..

    These days I am afraid I would not volunteer in the sense you are asking, at the school perhaps, I do love working with kids, but with all the regulation, police checks, etc, to me it is an invasion of privacy although I do fully understand and appreciate the safety of our kids… Although I have no reasons of concerns I still find it insulting…

    Over the years we have helped many many people with various circumstances from food, to study, to housing.
    Friend helping friend is the way we see it….
    and the way we like it…

  2. Jim says:

    EYES down look in CC – pass me my big marker pen to tick off some numbers…

    Love the game…!

    Flower bingo eh!? Now there’s an idea – Flora to issue loyalty cards so different flower types can be ordered and crossed off and after X bunches the buyer gets some freeeeee!!

    Volunteering is one of the ways to really feel fulfilled- my efforts have been a bit more selfish with me doing something physical (keep it clean now) for charity with mountains, bikes and runs. You’ve got me thinking though – it’s been a while…

    I smell a new challenge!

  3. Gareth in Thailand says:

    Hi CC,
    Great subject and something most of us try and block out of our lives and generally ignore if we are being honest.

    I have to admit its not something I could do. I simply don’t have the patience or the skillset in my personality to deal with anyone other than family and even then I struggle and do it more out of duty than desire. I tried a few times with my grandparents but failed miserably, the only thing I can do is throw some money at it to get someone else to do it.
    I do find it somewhat terrible the fact that, certainly in the UK, the people who do this sort of work rarely get anything other than the minimum pay wise and as such I tried to help out directly with the people who cared for my Grandfather during the later (nasty) stages of Alzheimers prior to his death.

    As for the garden of life;
    I have done some altruistic acts but if I’m honest nowhere near enough. I have tried (and succeeded) to set up some training courses and recruitment policies for the less fortunate members of socety in a few Asian countries with reasonable success, but again could probably do a lot more.

    Now you’ve made me think about it answering honestly if its not my family then my efforts are very limited. I’d like to say that will change but its unlikely, giving a few quid is about as far as I’m ever likely to go.

    • Gareth,

      Thank you for your honesty. It isn’t for everyone, but you pointed out some important things. It has to start with your family. It is like taking care of yourself enough before you can help others. Money is always important for places that help people…if you have the means, donate away. That is just as helpful and valid as anything else. It actually sounds like you have done quite a bit.

      I am sorry about your Grandfather. You need not be so hard on yourself. Alzheimer’s especially the “nasty” stages are so difficult to cope with. Yes, those that really “care” for people with such diseases don’t get paid enough. So much disparity from corporate versus non-profit. I made more as a temporary office administrator than I did as a social worker. And, those that work closest to the patient/client make less.


      • arvind says:

        I agree with you Gareth, the people who do some of the most important caring work in our society such as nurses and social workers are quite poorly paid.

        Somehow we have our priorities wrong. The only consolation is that these people probably get a lot more work fulfilment than those working in offices in better paid jobs.

        • Arvind,

          Yes, that is true there is more intrinsic value. However, it is difficult to make ends meet unless you are in a dual income household. I am very blessed to have a husband who is an engineer, so I can do whatever I want. You really have to love what you are doing in order to maintain; otherwise, there is a lot of people who burn out because emotional it is very demanding without much in return sometimes.

          The sad part is that the further away from direct client/patient care, the more money you make.


  4. arvind says:

    I will be volunteering some time before Xmas to help with the annual Basket brigade in London:-


    This is a great undertaking first started by personal development guru Anthony Robbins. It entails making up a food basket and delivering to needy families who would not have a proper Xmas meal otherwise.

    When I first did this 3 years ago, I delivered about 20 baskets in Peckham estate which is one of the most deprived parts of London and it was quite an experience. Somehow I survived.

    • Arvind,

      That is so cool. It is something that I would love to do or even start once I am feeling up to it. I’m glad you survived…I’ll protect you. I’ve learned some street smarts by the seat of my scared pants. Just remember don’t wear bling!!


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