In the seven years since the opening of Monarch Landing
retirement community in Naperville, IL, residents have resisted playing
Bingo. Why? “Because they felt it was for old people,” said
Monarch Landing Lifestyle Coordinator Sherry DeFillippo, without a hint of
irony. Indeed, one look at the bustling
community of seniors, activity calendars in hand, belies the stereotype of
elderly people sitting around playing a mild game of Bingo. Understandably, then, when 87 residents
turned out to play Bingo on a Sunday afternoon in July, game organizer Rita
Roberts was taken by surprise. “We were
flabbergasted,” said Roberts, a resident who has been trying to initiate Bingo
at Monarch Landing for the past three years.
“We were expecting 20-25 people.
We ran out of everything and had to cut up little pieces of paper!” In short order, DeFillippo ordered more Bingo
“Everyone just had a blast,” said DeFillippo, who researched the State of Illinois’ rules on gambling and made sure they could legally play without a license. “We can’t charge more than 50 cents per card, and players can’t win more than $10 per game.” While some of the residents expressed a desire to play every week, the group agreed upon the third Sunday of the month. At the eagerly awaited second Bingo gathering on August 18, there were nearly as many players.
While Bingo is new to Monarch Landing, games in general are a staple on the activities calendar. Bridge and duplicate bridge are challenging games taught by a resident knowledgeable in both. Sudoku, a brain teaser of a puzzle, is taught by another resident. Also played regularly are Mahjong, Bunco, chess, canasta, cribbage, poker, pinochle, billiards, Scrabble, Scum, and—a resident favorite—Mexican Train, an interactive dominos game. “That’s just a hoot,” said DeFillippo. “There are seven to ten tables of players twice a week; they just laugh and have fun for an hour and a half.”
Despite the laughter and camaraderie, the games at Monarch Landing are not all, well, fun and games. “The games we offer allow residents to tap into many dimensions of wellness,” said Wellness Manager Antonio Galvan, who initiated Monarch Landing’s MindMatters program. Using intellectually stimulating games from Marbles: The Brain Store, the MindMatters program targets specific aspects of brain fitness, such as critical thinking, memory, word skills, visual perception, and coordination. “Our residents have thoroughly enjoyed them,” said Galvan of the Marbles games that were eventually purchased by Monarch Landing to be used at residents’ leisure.
As for the late-blooming Bingo, Rita Roberts admits she has not been the game’s biggest fan throughout her 90 years of life (she playfully blames the nun who made her participate in high school). But she is glad she heeded the voices of those who, despite the “stigma,” expressed a desire to play. “It really is a fun time, and there are many of us who are looking forward to the third Sunday of the month.”
Monarch Landing is a senior living community on a scenic campus in Naperville, Illinois - named "one of America's best places to live and retire" by Modern Maturity. Monarch Landing is owned by Senior Care Development and managed by Life Care Services. For additional information, visit www.welcometomonarchlanding.com.