Take a look around Grand Villa Senior Living Community in Pinellas Park and it’s not hard to notice something special.
Over the course of the past few months, residents and staff here have been getting back into the swing of things with face-to-face activities like live music and dancing.
On this evening, all the isolation, depression, and loneliness the residents experienced during the COVID-19 Pandemic is easily replaced with one word.
“Tonight is bingo! We love it! It’s a challenge. You never know who is going to win,” one resident told me with a huge grin.
This game is no joke. It’s serious. It’s intense. More importantly, it’s a chance for them to get reacquainted with their friends and neighbors.
Something that up until a couple of months ago, didn’t seem possible.
“Before bingo, we did activities in the hallway. They would use printed cards and a marker instead of bingo chips to mark their numbers,” Max Piasecki, Life Enrichment Coordinator said.
Sitting just outside their rooms, staff would walk up and down the hallway calling out numbers. In Pinellas Park, they seemed lucky. Some facilities in Florida had residents stay in their rooms and do bingo via intercom. This was their chance to try and keep it as normal as possible in a not-so-normal time.
“It was still fun but it was different that’s for sure and I think our residents felt that. Not being able to see their friends that they are used to seeing every single day was really tough on them,” Executive Director, Jessica Sisti told me.
But now it seems like that time has passed and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter.
The room is so focused you could drop pin while the numbers are being called and there is no lack of smiles in any corner of it.
The residents play for ‘Villa Bucks’. It’s fake money that the residents can collect over time and use at monthly auctions for items they need.
“You can sit with anybody, you can laugh with anybody, you can cheer for them on the wins,” a resident said as she flashed a $500 villa buck my way.
The money might not be real but what it’s creating certainly is.
“They’re so happy to be back and around each other. You can really feel it everywhere in the community,” Sisti said.