Find out how Improvisational Comedy Training can help you as a caregiver. The program encourages engagement of your loved one in an environment that is open, accepting and encouraging, where there are no right or wrong answers, just a place to have fun and gain new insights on how we can better interact with one another.
Beginning Monday, April 4, the MAD* Factory Theatre Co. of Oberlin will provide one-hour improv comedy training sessions at the Wellington Memory Café for an eight-week period. The classes will be held from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. as part of the Café’s regular programming from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The classes include:
- Icebreakers - Exploration of feelings
- Physical warmups - Empathy training
- Mental focus warmups - Quick-thinking
Sharing a big hug
Note: THRIVE! is TH; Nina Fisher is NF
TH: How did the concept of Improv training for dementia patients and their caregivers
NF: Carole Klingler reached out to us at the MAD* Factory with the concept, based on research and programs happening elsewhere in the country. Improv for dementia patients and their caregivers doesn't currently have a nationally recognized training program, but the concept is gaining traction and popularity!
TH: Is the MAD* training primarily for caregivers, who then use your techniques with dementia patients?
NF: From our perspective, the idea behind these improv classes is first to provide a fun and different activity for the participants and caregivers to do together. It's not a seminar where we say, "These are the things you need to do." The benefits and techniques come naturally through participation. In improv we ask everyone to let go of their preconceived notions of what is "correct" and step into a world of their “scene partner,” even if it seems a little strange. We have learned that there can be a disconnect between the world the person with dementia is in, and the world their caregiver wants them to be in. Improv demands that you stay in the moment and just see where it goes, which is of course easier said than done -- but that's where improv comes in!
A therapy dog "coming to the rescue" at an improv class
It's all about having fun!
TH: How does Improv help dementia patients? What are the key benefits?
NF: Laughter is Benefit Number One! From there because it's improv -- which means going with the flow -- a lot of the frustrations of daily life are taken away during class. Whatever comes to mind, we just say, "Yes! let's go with it," instead of trying to fit into social norms of what people "should" be doing. We always foster a sense of teamwork and community, as well. After each scene, we applaud. Participants are celebrated multiple times per session. The impact that peer support can have on someone's overall happiness is HUGE.
TH: Has the MAD* Factory held classes at other Memory Cafés?
NF: In North Ridgeville. The classes were fantastic! Caregivers and dementia participants were so open to try this new experience and we had a great time. Caregivers would come up to us after the classes and say they used the elements from class at home to turn frustrating situations into a playful back and forth, and it really helped them.
A participant's funny sketch