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Bingocize program could be helpful tool for healthy aging

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Could the game of bingo — with a twist — be part of healthier aging? A $1.1 million grant will help University of Kentucky College of Education researchers measure the impacts of increased exercise and social interaction for nursing home residents through a program called Bingocize®. Dr. Greg recently spoke with Dr. Melinda Ickes, who will lead the three year study.

From UK Now:

The study led by Ickes, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, is funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Kentucky Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The grant will be used to implement Bingocize at approximately 30 certified nursing facilities across Kentucky, involving faculty and students from multiple Kentucky universities and colleges.

“This grant has the potential to not only improve health and quality of life among long-term care facility residents, but there is an opportunity to rebuild collaborative relationships between certified nursing home facilities and university faculty and students that may have been lost due to COVID restrictions on in-person programming,” Ickes said.

Bingocize was developed by Jason Crandall, program creator and co-director of the Western Kentucky University Center for Applied Science in Health and Aging. Twice per week, in sessions lasting 45 minutes to an hour, facilitators lead nursing home residents in a series of low-intensity physical exercises combined with the familiar game of bingo.

In a Bingocize game, participants rest while numbers are called, then complete strategically inserted exercises or health education questions, rest during number calling and so on. This pattern is continued until someone wins the game. The exercises are focused on improving functional mobility by increasing strength, range of motion and balance, which are part of certified nursing facility care plan requirements.

“We are so lucky to have the support and partnership of Dr. Crandall and his Bingocize team,” Ickes said. “The strides he has made to improve health and well-being among aging adults is tremendous. We look forward to building on that success with our project in reaching over 1,100 Kentucky residents.”

A lack of social engagement and physical activity may contribute to a continued decline in functional mobility, activities of daily living and an increase in fall risk for nursing home residents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing home residents account for 20% of deaths from falls in adults over 65 years of age.

Dustin Falls, the director of the UK-based program, said, “There is a significant need for easy-to-use and enjoyable activities capable of increasing daily social engagement, improving health and decreasing social isolation.”

This experience also supports workforce development with meaningful patient interaction in a fun and engaging way, Ickes noted.

Nursing, social workers and other health professionals will also have the opportunity to gain professional continuing education units for completing the online Bingocize leadership training. College students also will gain hands-on experience when volunteering to lead Bingocize at partnering nursing facilities.

“It offers a multitude of opportunities for collaboration, health benefits, intergenerational social engagement, experiential learning and workforce development. It is a meaningful program that promotes wellness across the lifespan including among those who work with aging adults through staff wellness components,” Ickes said.

This work is funded by a civil money penalty (CMP) grant from the CMS. CMP funds are generated by fines imposed against nursing home facilities found to be out of compliance with Medicaid and Medicare participation requirements.

For more information about the program, including how to participate, contact Ickes at melinda.ickes@uky.edu.

Alan Lytle has more than 25 years of experience as a Kentucky broadcaster. Over that span he has earned multiple awards for anchoring, writing and producing news & features for WUKY. He took home the Kentucky Broadcasters Association's Best Radio Anchor award in 2021.