Posted: October 22, 2021
Written by: Lucy Floyd
Lucy Floyd is a Sales Counselor at Someren Glen and the recipient of the 2021 scholarship for learning to teach improv to people living with dementia. Here are her thoughts on why improv theater games benefit older adults.
What is improv, you might ask? Improv is the art of playing games to invent new ideas at the drop of a hat, without using a script. Scary? Well, it might be if you were doing it all by yourself! Improv takes a group of supportive people to make it work and can be played by anyone, at any age. In improv, there are no mistakes, which means everyone has a chance to feel successful.
At our older adult living community here in Centennial, Someren Glen residents are heard laughing from all the way down the hall when they engage in these mind-enhancing exercises. Even while wearing masks throughout COVID, we had small groups gather to relate, co-create and just spread the joy of shared laughter together. This was a real benefit to those that joined in the fun. Resident Vera S. shares that, “It was an opportunity to get out of our apartments, relate to others, and commiserate. It was great to be among others experiencing the same thing. We overcame our fears together.” At Someren Glen, improv has been creating community, and for most of us, community is key to our well-being.
Improv sparks creativity and gets you thinking outside the box. As we age, sometimes we get stuck in our old, rehearsed habits (I know I do!). Playing improv forces us to erase that habit, even if just for a moment, and do something out of the ordinary. It can be exhilarating!
Engaging in these creative, imaginative games improves our mental health, takes us out of our daily routine, relieving stress through laughter. No matter where we are on our journey, improv allows us to use our imagination, so that even if memories are hard for some to access, the world of storytelling and imagination is accessible to all.
Listening to one another, and being heard, is such an important part of connecting to one another, to those you live and work with. Older adults are often very skilled at listening keenly. But they are not always heard by the younger generation. Here, as with so many skills that older adults have mastered, is where we should perk our ears and take note!
The main rule of improv is simply to say “YES” and go with the flow. Tapping into our imagination, and using what’s right in front of us, is what makes an improv game successful. And, above all, laughing and feeling successful as a community, is what makes improv one of the greatest gifts of all.
At Someren Glen older adult living community, we take “Yes, and…” to a whole new level, weaving stories together and playing games that light up the room each time. The smiles on residents’ faces are priceless, and infectious. Come join us for a improv for seniors sometime and see for yourself!
PS: My fortune cookie today said, “Our happiness is greatest when we contribute most to the happiness of others.” Yes!!!