Stomping Ground Comedy Theater is offering a virtual, interactive workshop for those caring for people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
The program, called Improv for Caregivers is for friends, family members and those looking for support and a new roadmap for communicating with their loved ones.
“It’s a interactive, experiential virtual workshop on Zoom,” said Andrea Baum, Co-Founder and Improv for Life Director at Stomping Ground Comedy Theater. “We use improv activities to connect together as a group and learn communication skills on how to create more joyous interactions with people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.”
Here’s some of what the workshop will cover:
- Understanding your loved one’s new and changing perspective of their environment.
- New Nonverbal and Verbal ways to communicate with your changing loved one.
- Listening and responding to difficult behaviors such as confusion, outbursts, and agitation
- How to step into your loved one’s new world and respond appropriately instead of reality checking.
- Diffusing difficult behavior.
Baum adds that the workshop can also help with decreasing personal stress levels for caregivers.
“Unpaid caregivers are really struggling right now. Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s is one of the most stressful jobs out there and the pandemic has added even more stress to caregivers. We are here to to give support and for these people to come together and have a moment where they are able to relate with others who are going through similar experiences. And also just to gain really needed coping skills.”
Baum is psychotherapist, but her journey with helping caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia began with her own family.
“My father has dementia and also a brain injury and it was years of caregiving for him and noticing that there was a lot of stress within our family when we were trying to communicate with him. I was trying to help people with their therapy skills and I was trying to help other caregivers through therapy but I was having a hard time because I was having a hard time in my own personal life with it too.”
One day, while she was listening to a episode of This American Life she learned you can use improv to communicate with people with dementia.
“That’s when it really clicked for me. I was actually taking improv classes at the time, and once I started using improv skills it was a lot easier and pretty life changing. I wanted to bring it to the Dallas area because it wasn’t being done here and I wanted to help others.”
In 2018, Baum and Co-founder Lindsay Goldapp opened the non-profit Stomping Grounds Comedy Theater. Using her experience as a psychotherapist, Baum designed and created Improv For Life, a series of therapeutic improv classes and workshops for several unique needs populations.
No comedy experience is necessary for the Improv for Caregivers workshop and everyone is welcome. Baum says the goal is for everyone to have fun, laugh a lot and gain caregiving skills.
Stomping Grounds Comedy Theater offers Improv for Caregivers the last Tuesday of every month from 12:30-2 p.m. It’s a free workshop funded by the AWARE Fund of the Dallas Foundation and the Hagen Family Foundation.
Stomping Ground’s Improv for Life programs are also available to support groups virtually.
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