'Bingocize' Adapting to Social Distancing of COVID-19

May 19, 2020

'Bingocize' in the time of social distancing has older adults, like this group from Aging is Cool in Austin, Texas, taking part at home on Zoom.
Credit Aging is Cool

An exercise program for older adults, developed around bingo, is adapting to the social distancing of COVID-19. 

Bingocize was created by Western Kentucky University Associate Professor of Exercise Science Jason Crandall. It's based on the game of bingo, with frequent intermissions for simple exercises to improve balance and range of motion, such as reaching upward, or rotaitng wrists or ankles. Health education is also built into the game.

Socialization is also an important aspect of Bingocize, since it's recognized as a factor in warding off depression.

Bingocize has been approved for inclusion in the Evidence-Based Falls Prevention Program of the U.S. Administration for Community Living. The approval  makes Bingocize eligible for funding under the Title III-D program of the Older Americans Act, which supports healthy lifestyles and promotes healthy behaviors for adults 60 and over.

The program is in use in more than 30 states across the U.S., as well as in Poland and England.

Rhonda Miller talked with Jason Crandall, the creator of Bingocize, about adapting the program during the pandemic with the restrictions of social distancing, when residents of nursing homes can't go to the common room to participate and senior centers that offer the program are closed.

Miller: 

Jason, I know that there are so many things that have been limited now with COVID-19. And Bingocize has been in so many nursing homes and senior centers. What's the situation with that now? What's the status?

Crandall:  
Well, as you might expect, most of the facilities where we have Bingosize, pretty much stopped any kind of congregate groups, so they're not able to deliver Bingocize face-to-face. However, when all of this started, we started getting a lot of people contacting us wanting to know if Bingocize could be delivered remotely. And so, the mobile app has that ability. And so, what we did is we started putting together some guidance for implementation of the program remotely. We had never really done that before. So we were really forced to be creative. And we've been working with a lot of organizations across the country. And they are currently doing that.

Miller:  
Is it individually, by the individual person? Or how's that working?

Crandall: 
What we're doing in these facilities right now is the leaders are connecting with the older adults who are in their homes, and many of them aren’t very technically savvy, and they're having to connect via Zoom. And what the leader does is the leader shares the screen from the app and the participants actually have paper cards that look just like the cards on the app.

Miller:  

They're seeing the same thing they would see if they're in a room in a senior center? 

Crandall: 
Exactly. 

Miller: 
And would these be people who would normally go to a senior center?

Crandall:  
Yes, many of them would. But then many of them would not, which is actually a good thing that has come out of this, is we're actually reaching a lot of people that would wouldn't normally reach. And this is something that the National Council on Aging has been talking about for a long time is that we're reaching people who can actually physically get to the senior centers. However, we're not reaching the majority of those people who aren't coming to the senior centers. So this is a way that we can maybe do both when things come go back to normal, we could do face-to-face, but we could also now have the ability to do it remotely like this.

Staff at Hillside Center in Madisonville, Kentucky lead "Hallway Bingocize" outside residents' rooms due to social distancing required by COVID-19.
Credit Hillside Center

Miller: 

Are you working with county or city senior organizations?

Crandall: 
These would be Area Agencies on Aging. And those are the organizations that qualify for Title III grant money, and those are the ones that actually use their grant money to purchase Bingosize to put in these facilities.

Miller: 
And I know the other big place that Bingosize is being used is in nursing homes.

Crandall: 
Most of the facilities, their residents have to stay in their rooms. And what we did immediately to react to that was to create in-room cards, and we sent these via email to that facility. They printed them off. And so they give them to the people in their rooms to actually play and do things that are listed on this card. And then they will play “Hallway Bingosize” so the staff will be out in the hallways, everybody will be in their room, but they're all been playing at the same time. That's the benefit of Bingosize is everybody's trying to participate together trying to be social as much as they possibly can. And to, you know, to have fun. 

Miller: 
Do you know at this point, how many people around the nation are actually using Bingosize?

Crandall:  
I can tell you that we're now in, I think, 32 states. It's definitely hundreds, probably thousands by this point.

Miller:  
Jason Crandall, thank you so much for speaking with me. I appreciate it. 

Crandall: 
Thank you very much.