Local Seniors Compete in National Contest to Pick Tourney Champ Psychologists say March Madness Boosts Happiness for Seniors
Bracketologists, beware! Local seniors are now in the game, ready to pick their favorite NCAA basketball teams, shoot some hoops and cheer their favorites on to win as part of a national contest. It’s all part of “Senior March Gladness” – a program to get seniors engaged in March Madness by Visiting Angels, a national in-home senior care company with offices in our area. Psychologists say getting hooked on hoops helps seniors stay active, connected and engaged.
In “Senior March Gladness,” seniors compete with other Visiting Angels clients nationwide to fill out brackets to pick the championship team. The senior with the winning bracket takes home a prize (a day of fun of their choice), courtesy of Visiting Angels.
WHAT IS Visiting Angels’ “Senior March Gladness”?
During the tournament, Visiting Angels caregivers add an extra element to their senior care routines:
- Help seniors fill out specially designed Final Four brackets (No betting or money involved. It’s just for fun!)
- Shoot indoor hoops (with a miniature basketball set) to stay active.
- Tune into the tourney.
“Many of our seniors are not mobile, and many of them don’t have family living nearby which can make them feel lonely and isolated especially after a long winter,” says Larry Meigs, CEO of Visiting Angels. “With Senior March Gladness, our caregivers help seniors stay mentally and physically engaged. They shoot hoops, fill out a bracket or just watch the games together. The tournament is a national ritual, a big event like the Super Bowl, but it lasts for several weeks. The seniors get excited, enthusiastic and feel connected to the community and alma maters. They feel part of something bigger, outside of their own lives.”
Benefits of Brackets for Seniors:
Studies show watching the NCCA Division I Basketball Championship boosts happiness, and builds bonding and a sense of community – especially for seniors.
- Fun escape – A senior editor with the Journal of Media Psychology says “March Madness can provide an escape from the everyday woes in life – if only for a few hours. Older people, especially those who are widowed or physically incapacitated, are more likely than others to relate to televised events. Watching sports helps us get outside ourselves.”
- Brain games – A study from the University of Chicago says when we sit and watch a game, our brain is actually playing the game itself. The study finds that simply watching a sport improves language skills. Seniors stay engaged by predicting the winners and following scores of a total of 67 games.
- Bonding – Psychologists say bonding over the highs and lows of sporting events strengthens ties, helps people feel supported and makes it easier to open up about personal things (Long Island psychologist, Renee Clauselle).
- Psychological need to belong – Sports fans get similar benefits to those involved in religious, professional or other social networks. Social support is responsible for keeping people mentally sound (Sports Fans: the Psychology of Social Impact of Spectators).
- Sense of nostalgia – Watching sports helps seniors reminisce about the days they used to coach or play sports, counteracting loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It creates more optimism and inspiration about the future and makes life seem more worthwhile and death less frightening (New York Times article quoting Dr. Constantine Sedikides).
“This is not about the tournament. It’s about getting seniors involved in something exciting and social that helps them bond,” says Meigs. “For weeks, these seniors will have something to look forward to and have opinions to share with friends, family and grandkids. It’s a fun, hopeful experience where underdogs often win and surprises are everywhere. Seniors – and everyone for that matter- could use a little basketball bonding in their lives.”
Visiting Angels was established in 1991 in Baltimore as an independent agency caring for seniors in their homes. Today, Visiting Angels has more than 450 private duty agencies throughout the United States. Visiting Angels agencies employ only experienced caregivers and conduct the most comprehensive background screenings to ensure that their caregivers meet or exceed the company’s high standards. For companion care, Alzheimer’s care, Dementia care and the country’s best palliative care program, make Visiting Angels your choice in senior homecare. For more information on Visiting Angels or to find a location near you, please visit www.visitingangels.com.