Improv & Senior Citizens: The Therapeutic Power of Yes

When one thinks of improv, the image that comes to mind is typically Wayne Brady performing an extemporaneous ballad on Whose Line Is It Anyway. This image typically wouldn’t be a group of senior citizens or elderly individuals. Yet, many seniors are finding a new joy in a regular practice of improv. 

Whether in the StageBridge Senior Theatre is San Francisco, or in the comfort of someone’s home health care, elderly individuals are discovering wellness within this spontaneous art form. 

The following will explore a few major tenets of improv, and how they can beget laughter, healing, and wellness within elderly individuals. In-home health care can also be very beneficial.

Theatrics without Memorization

Many senior citizens find that, as they grow older, memorization becomes more difficult. Being in a theatrical production is a thrilling experience, yet it becomes challenging when you cannot recall your lines. Through improvisation, elderly individuals are able to take place in fantastical, theatrical worlds without having to memorize a word of dialogue.

Improv Begets Laughter

Laughter does a myriad of good for the soul, mind, and body. It reduces stress, increases blood flow, and even is believed to improve memory! Thus, it’s imperative that senior citizens receive ample opportunities to laugh. 

Concurrently, one of the main tenets of improv is that it is funny. Creating something out of nothing is inherently silly. Anything can happen: people can sing in a fictional language or duel an imaginary pirate king. All of these things tend to beget heaps and barrels of therapeutic laughter. Thus, a great way to maintain wellness in old age may be to receive a regular dosage of improvisation! 

The Positive Impact of “Yes, And”

The main tenet of improv is positive building on each other’s ideas. This is expressed through the concept “Yes, And.” This phrase simply means, in any scene, a person will agree with another’s idea, and build upon it. This has been universally applauded as a great team building exercise, but many elderly individuals have especially benefited from this concept. 

In a 2017 article conducted by the Harold, senior citizens expressed how important the concept of “yes, and” was to their lives. A 72 year old woman named Nikki LaSorella states that “Yes, and is such a positive way to look at things, because you’re agreeing with someone and then you’re adding your point of view.” Thus, through improv, elderly individuals are given the tools to lead agreeable and positive lives.