Take a look at Grand Villa Senior Living Community in Pinellas Park and it’s not hard to notice something special.
Over the past few months, residents and staff here have picked up the pace with face-to-face activities like live music and dancing.
That evening, all of the isolation, depression and loneliness experienced by residents during the COVID-19 pandemic is easily replaced by one word.
“Tonight is bingo! We love it! It’s a challenge. You never know who will win, ”a resident told me with a big smile.
This game is not a joke. This is serious. It’s intense. More importantly, it is a chance for them to reconnect with their friends and neighbors.
Something that, until a few months ago, didn’t seem possible.
“Before bingo, we used to do activities in the hallway. They were using printed cards and a marker instead of bingo chips to mark their numbers, ”said Max Piasecki, life enrichment coordinator.
Sitting just outside their room, staff were walking down the hall calling numbers. At Pinellas Park, they looked lucky. Some facilities in Florida required residents to stay in their rooms and play intercom bingo. It was their chance to try to keep him as normal as possible in a not-so-normal time.
“It was always fun, but it was different for sure and I think our residents felt it. Not being able to see their friends that they used to see every day was really hard for them, ”CEO Jessica Sisti told me.
But now it seems that time has passed and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter.
The room is so focused that you might drop a pin while the numbers are called and smiles abound in every corner.
Residents play for ‘Villa Bucks’. It’s counterfeit money that residents can collect over time and use in monthly auctions for the items they need.
“You can sit with anyone, you can laugh with anyone, you can cheer them on when they win,” said a resident as she showed me a $ 500 ticket for a villa.
Money may not be real, but what it creates certainly is.
“They are so happy to be back and to be together. You can really smell it all over the community, ”Sisti said.