How to Improve Dementia Care Through Improvisation

caregiver talking with senior man with dementia

Learn how to improve dementia care through a unique technique: improv.

If you’re wondering how to improve dementia care, there are several key factors: creativity, flexibility, and a healthy dose of lighthearted fun. It stands to reason then that a spontaneous activity like improvisation is an excellent way to connect and engage with a person dealing with cognitive challenges. Not only does it enable you to pivot and embrace unexpected plot twists, but it enables you to learn more about the person in your care.

So, How Exactly Does Improv in Dementia Care Work?

The aim of improv in Alzheimer’s care is to meet the person in their reality and to supply them with opportunities to express themselves in any manner that is natural and comfortable. It is about creating an environment in which the person is heard, respected, and never corrected. It takes more listening than talking, and accepting any thoughts or feelings the person would like to share.

Listed below are a couple of improv activity tips to try. After getting an idea of how it works, the sky is typically the limit! Use your own creativity and knowledge of the individual you’re providing care for to formulate ideas that will work best for your needs.

  • “Yes, and…”: This is a straightforward but extremely important strategy to incorporate throughout all of your interactions with someone with Alzheimer’s. It’s the alternative of the all-too common, “No, but…” where we could be tempted to correct something we realize to be untrue. Instead, if the person with Alzheimer’s says, “I need to bake cookies today for my daughter to take to school!” an appropriate response would be, “Yes, and tell me more about what is going on at school today.” Your aim is to agree with the individual 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 starts with the correct letter or not, is acceptable.
  • What’s in the box?: Pretend you are holding a box (or use a real, empty box). Mimic opening the box and looking inside. Hand the box to the older adult and ask what they would choose to put into the box. You can also 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.

Our dementia care team has an abundance of innovative tips to make each day the best it can be for those we serve. Contact us at (949) 859-4700 to request a free in-home consultation to learn more about our home care in Irvine, Newport Beach, Anaheim, and the surrounding areas.