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Improv Techniques for Alzheimer’s Care: Connecting Through Creativity

Alzheimer’s care
Try this Alzheimer’s care technique to better connect with someone you love.

Creativity, adaptability, and a healthy dose of lighthearted fun are among the top ingredients to healthy and effective Alzheimer’s care. It stands to reason then that a spontaneous activity like improvisation is a great way to connect and engage with a person dealing with cognitive challenges. Not only does it allow you to pivot and embrace unexpected plot twists, but it enables you to learn more about the individual in your care.

So, How Exactly Does Improv in Alzheimer’s Care Work?

The goal of improv in dementia care is to meet the person in their reality and to give them opportunities to express themselves in whatever way is comfortable and natural. It’s about creating an environment in which the person is respected, heard, and never corrected. It takes more listening than talking, and accepting any feelings or thoughts the individual wants to share.

Listed below are a couple of improv activity tips to try. Once you have a sense of how it works, the sky is the limit! Use your own creativity and understanding of the individual you’re caring for to formulate ideas that will work best for your needs.

  • “Yes, and…”: This is a simple but incredibly important technique 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 tempted to correct something we know to be untrue. Instead, if the individual with dementia says, “I need to bake cookies today for my son to take to school!” an appropriate response would be, “Yes, and tell me more about what is going on at school today.” Your objective is to agree with the senior and encourage them to keep the conversation going.
  • What’s in the box?: Pretend you’re holding a box (or use a real, empty box). Mimic opening the box and looking inside. Hand the box to the senior and ask what they would choose to put into the box. You should 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 person is engaged and interested.
  • Picnic: In this activity, you’re going to imagine you’re packing a picnic basket with items that start with each letter of the alphabet. Modify it accordingly based on the individual’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 an abundance of innovative ideas to make each day the very best it can be for those we serve. Request a complimentary in-home consultation for more information via email or call us at  (866) 229-2505.

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