We are living in an unprecedented time. Millions of families across the globe, and right here in Orange County, are following orders to stay home in order to protect our community and our families from the spread of a dangerous disease. For caregivers, this time brings added challenges. Some of us may have relied on the help of professional caregivers or Adult Day Services to care for our loved ones during the day, but are now working through how to manage on our own.

Much of the challenge may reside in just making it through the day, and finding meaningful ways to pass the time with each other. At AlzOC, we often talk about the importance of activities having two key ingredients: being “person-centered” and providing “contented involvement.”

Person-centered simply means that the activities are meaningful to the person and take into account the person’s preferences, routines, hobbies, habits, and even their past occupation. It means that an activity that works for one person might not work for everyone. For example, if your loved one was never keen on chores, folding towels may not provide them with much contentment. Perhaps they would rather look through photos or participate in some gardening.

Contented involvement refers to a state of appropriate engagement. It means finding a balance between overstimulation and under-stimulation, both of which can be frustrating for a person with cognitive challenges. For instance, maybe your loved one used to cook elaborate meals at home, but now that task is a bit overwhelming. Try “right-sizing” the activity to provide stimulation, at a level that won’t cause frustration. Perhaps you measure out the ingredients and then have them assist with mixing or stirring – or taste testing!

Below you will find some tips and resources to give you ideas to keep your loved one as engaged and content as possible.

Ideas with items around the house:

  • Looking through photos
  • Putting on music and dancing in the living room
  • Play “name the tune” with favorite songs
  • Making a Memory Box with items special to your loved one
  • Making tea or coffee
  • Taking a walk
  • Household chores (folding towels, dusting, emptying a junk drawer)
  • Meal prepping or setting the table
  • Art (coloring or painting with nontoxic paint)
  • Turning personal care into a “spa day”
  • Sorting playing cards
  • Reading a favorite book or magazine
  • Fixing something around the house
  • Make a target and try to toss a bean bag on it
  • Place small objects in a pouch and try to guess what they are by feel

Online offerings:

Live Animal Cams – many zoos are offering free live-stream videos of animals which can be fun and relaxing to watch together


Virtual Museum Tours



Online Music Offerings – NPR has a page updated constantly with live concerts to watch from your home


Virtual Exercise – here are some links for simple exercise videos if you are physically able

10 minute yoga

Gentle chair yoga routine

Brain Dance

Finally, if you’d like more information on this topic, check out our recent Facebook Live video, or our webinar on Enhancing Everyday Activities.

Stay safe and be well!