Learning improv comedy to become a better caregiver

Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska (ARA) is teaming up with University of Alaska Anchorage and Anchorage’s improvisational comedy troupe, Scared Scriptless, to bring a new opportunity to family caregivers of someone with dementia. This free six week, in-person class will teach the principles of improv comedy to improve communications with a loved one. Participants do not have to be an actor, or even be “funny,” but instead this program will teach communication techniques that are used in improv and are considered best-practices in dementia caregiving.

The class will be taught by several seasoned improvisers from Scared Scriptless, Alaska’s longest-running improv troupe, with support from UAA faculty and ARA staff. At the end of each 1.5 hour weekly in-person class in Anchorage, caregivers will have a short discussion/debrief with ARA staff, a UAA gerontologist and student research assistants to talk about what was learned and how it may apply at home.

This classes will be held at Cyrano’s Theatre Company, 3800 Debarr Rd., on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., March 17 through April 21. All participants must be at least 18 years of age, provide unpaid care for a friend or family member with dementia, and be able to present the researcher with their COVID-19 vaccination card, demonstrating it has been at least two weeks since their second or third shot, in order to participate.

If eligible, participants will receive a $10 gift card for each weekly session, for a possible total incentive of $60 for completing the program.

If interested or to see if you qualify, send an email to the researcher, Britteny M. Howell, at bmhowell2@alaska.edu by March 3 to sign up.

Brittany Howell, PhD, CPG, CDP, is an assistant professor, Division of Population Health Sciences at University of Alaska Anchorage.

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