Teaching caregivers to communicate with Art of Improv

Sea Tea Comedy returned to Wesley Village on Saturday, Feb. 8, for an interactive workshop for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Wesley Village and Sea Tea began offering this workshop a few years ago and found family caregivers were especially interested in improving the quality of their visits with their loved one. One of the biggest difficulties was holding easier and more meaningful conversations when their loved one was struggling to follow thoughts and conversations or being repetitive.

When caregivers are faced with a loved one with dementia whose reality does not match their own, it can be frustrating. This workshop teaches that it is less stressful for the caregiver as well as the patient to accept his or her reality.

“Just like on a stage creating a show,” said Lacey Byrne, one of the Sea Tea performers. “If someone declares themselves an astronaut, it’s more fun to go along and see what happens. When your loved one believes it’s 1985 and that they do not know you, it’s much more freeing to say ‘yes’ and to keep the conversation going.”

This is one of the basic tenets of Improv, taking the “Yes, and…” approach, which allows a scene partner, or in this case, a loved one, to lead him or her through his or her reality. Sea Tea Improv uses these guidelines when creating fun characters and scenes for performances but also as an application for the workplace or one’s personal life.

Sea Tea Improv is a professional comedy company. The troupe performs at its Sea Tea Comedy Theatre on Asylum Street in Hartford, as well as on the road at area festivals, theaters and private businesses and organizational events.

In addition to their Caregiver Course - “The Art of Conversation,” Sea Tea also offers classes and workshops on writing and performing improv and comedy sketches, personal storytelling, and communication and conversation programming. For more information, go to seateaimprov.com.