Scripted Improvisation and Effects on Emotional Resiliency, Stress, and Positive Aspects of Caregiving
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Background: As the United States population continues to age, more people will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and dementia. Along with this increase in diagnosis comes an increase in the need for people to serve as caregivers for these individuals. Caregivers play a crucial role in the health and wellbeing of the people they care for, and there is incomplete research on techniques that can help caregivers handle challenges, avoid burnout, and come up with novel ways to approach problems they may face. Improvisation techniques are one avenue that may provide caregivers with solutions to these issues. Purpose: the purpose of this research is to study the effects of scripted improvisation on caregivers of people who have AD and/or dementia, and to see if improvisation increases emotional resiliency, reduces stress, and increases positive attitudes toward caregiving. Methods: 6 participants, aged 18 and older, who are caregivers for people with AD and/or dementia participated in a one-hour scripted improvisation workshop. Questionnaires (the Short Form Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI-12), The Resilience Scale™ (RS™), My Stress Thermometer, and Positive Aspects of Caregiving assessments) were completed beforehand to obtain baseline data regarding stress, depression, and positive affect towards caregiving. Techniques include paired improvisation and group techniques, with discussion afterward about how to apply techniques to their interactions with people who have AD and/or dementia. Two weeks later, these same questionnaires were completed by the participants and the data was analyzed to determine any effects from the improvisation workshop. Results: The improvisation session was completed on February 13, 2019. We anticipate analyses of the data to show an increased score on the positive aspects of caregiving after the scripted improvisation session, and decreased self-reported levels of stress and depression from the caregivers. Results are still pending acquisition of follow-up data from the participants. Conclusions: Scripted improvisation is an avenue that can be used to increase caregiver fulfillment and decrease stress caused by caregiving for a person with AD or dementia. Further research is needed to explain the impact of this techniques, as well as apply the techniques to caregivers for people with other chronic conditions.