Psychology Research Finds Bingo Useful for Improving Mental Sharpness in the Elderly

At a British Psychological Society conference, a Southampton University researcher revealed that playing bingo can improve speed of thought and help individuals to remain alert as they age. Research on both players and non-players found those who regularly play bingo are faster and more accurate than those who do not. The tests measure mental speed, memory, and mental scanning. The research found that older players actually outperform their younger counterparts, suggesting that keeping the brain active will help it to remain sharper for longer and could even be key to avoiding many of the neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, that are commonplace amongst the elderly.

Bingo Becoming More Popular

Although the older generation dominated bingo halls just over a decade ago, the introduction of mobile apps and online bingo games has made it much more appealing to younger people. According to the National Bingo Association, which the research findings came as no surprise to, bingo is currently played by an average of three million people in the UK with a mean age of 49. The popularity of bingo is also largely due to the coverage the game got after being taken up by well-known household names such as Mick Jagger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bingo Requires Skills

Playing physical bingo actually requires more mental skills than you realise. Although mobile and tablet apps have made playing bingo easier for many people by filling out the matching numbers on the tickets for them, even playing online means that players scan for digits so they can keep up with their game. Watching the game as it plays out has additional benefit as players see whether or not they are in with a chance of winning some money.

Julie Winstone, who carried out the research, stated that although any mental or physical activity is important to healthy aging, bingo is especially useful as it involves searching for digits, something especially important for a healthy aging process and keeping the mind alert. She went on to say that when playing bingo in a non-digital setting such as a bingo hall or pub, it’s very important not to miss a number, therefore players tend to give their full attention to the game, sometimes for several hours. Since concentration has been shown to decline as we age, playing bingo can help older people to sustain their attention skills for longer.

Research Information

During the research, Ms. Winstone recruited 112 participants, half of whom played bingo on a regular basis. These participants were then split into different age groups; those aged 18-40 and those aged 60-82. The participants were then asked to scan a grid for three digits, pairs of digits, and finally, one digit. The study found that the older bingo group, aged 60-82, were quicker at finding the digits and also made less errors than both groups of non-bingo players and even the younger bingo players.

Researchers noted there are some confounding variables, which could have contributed to the results of this study, for example past education or even the IQ of the participants. However, in general, the results were a solid predictor of bingo being a useful technique for strengthening and retaining mental scanning and attentional abilities as we age. Not everyone can get out to a bingo hall when they want to, especially in winter. With these things in mind, there are online venues where players can take advantage of Tombola bingo and sharpen their mind whilst having fun at the same time!

Bingo isn’t just a fun way of spending your time, it can actually help you to remain mentally sharp and alert, even into old age!