Creativity, adaptability, and a healthy dose of lighthearted fun are some of the top ingredients to healthy and effective dementia care. It stands to reason then that a spontaneous activity like improvisation is a perfect way to connect and engage with a person struggling with cognitive challenges. Not only does it enable you to pivot and embrace unexpected plot twists, but it allows you to learn more about the individual in your care.
So, How Does Improv Lead to Better Dementia Care?
The purpose of improv in dementia care is to meet the person within their reality and also to provide them with opportunities to express themselves in whatever way that is comfortable and natural. It’s about creating an environment in which the person is respected, heard, and never corrected. It requires more listening than talking and accepting any feelings or thoughts the individual would like to share.
Here are a few improv activity tips to try. After you have an idea of how it works, the sky is the limit! Utilize your own creativity and knowledge of the individual you are providing care for to formulate ideas that will perform best for you personally.
- “Yes, and…”: This is a simple but incredibly important strategy to incorporate throughout all of your interactions with someone with dementia. It’s the alternative of the all-too common, “No, but…” where we might be tempted to correct something we realize to be untrue. Alternatively, if the older adult with dementia says, “I have to bake cookies today for my daughter to take to school,” an appropriate response would be, “Yes, and tell me more about what’s going on in school today.” Your ultimate goal is to agree with the individual and encourage them to keep the conversation going.
- What’s in the box?: Pretend you are holding a box (or use a real, empty box). Mimic opening the box and peeking inside. Hand the box to the senior and ask what they would choose to put in the box. You can use the “Yes, and…” prompt to encourage them to tell you more. Or, ask them to hand you back the box, and you make up what you think should go inside. Take turns passing back and forth so long as the senior is engaged and interested.
- Picnic: In this activity, you’re going to imagine you’re packing a picnic basket with items which begin with each letter of the alphabet. Modify it accordingly based on the person’s ability level. And of course, any item they mention, whether it starts with the correct letter or not, is acceptable.
Our Alzheimer’s care team has lots of innovative tips to make each day the very best it can be for those we serve. Give us a call at 250.590.8098 , or contact us online to request a complimentary in-home consultation for more information.