Creativity, flexibility, and a healthy dose of lighthearted fun are among the top ingredients to a healthy and effective dementia care strategy. It stands to reason then that a spontaneous activity like improvisation is a perfect method to connect and engage with someone struggling with cognitive challenges. Not only does it allow you to pivot and embrace unforeseen plot twists, but it helps you to find out more about the person in your care.
So, How Does Improv in Alzheimer’s Care Work?
The goal of improv in Alzheimer’s care is to meet the person within their reality and to give them opportunities to express themselves in whatever way that is natural and comfortable. It’s about creating an environment where the person is respected, heard, and never corrected. It requires more listening than talking, and accepting any thoughts or feelings the person wants to share.
Listed here are a couple of improv activity suggestions to try. After getting an idea of how it works, the sky is the limit! Utilize your own creativity and knowledge of the person you are caring for to develop ideas that will perform best for your needs.
- “Yes, and…”: This is a simple but incredibly important strategy to incorporate throughout all of your interactions with someone with Alzheimer’s. It is the opposite of the all-too common, “No, but…” where we might be inclined to correct something we know to be untrue. Instead, if the older adult with Alzheimer’s 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 at school today.” Your goal is to agree with the person and encourage them to keep the conversation going.
- Picnic: In this activity, you’re going to imagine you’re packing a picnic basket with items that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Adjust it accordingly based on the person’s ability level. And of course, any item they mention, whether it begins with the correct letter or not, is acceptable.
- What’s in the box?: Pretend you’re holding a box (or use a real, empty box). Simulate opening the box and looking inside. Hand the box to the older adult 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 as long as the individual is interested and engaged.
Golden Harmony’s Alzheimer’s care team has an abundance of innovative suggestions to make each day the best it can be for those we serve. Email or call us at 919-426-7522 to request a free in-home consultation for more information about our award-winning in-home care services. Golden Harmony is proud to serve our neighbors in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest and the surrounding communities.