Therapists, working with nurses and other team members, have been creative about ways to work with residents in their rooms or apartments during the pandemic. Linda Riccio of Transitional Care Management suggests several fun and innovative activities that are practical and effective in small spaces. These include:

• Sweeping or dusting
• Working together to disinfect surfaces
• Reorganization of a closet or dresser drawer
• Nail care
• Scavenger hunts
• Using a reacher to pick up things high and low
• Zumba, yoga, or Tai Chi
• Games (such as tic tac toe) on a dry erase board
• Writing letters
• Practicing item transfer with a walker or wheelchair
• Stacking paper or Styrofoam cups
• Balloon or fly swatter volleyball
• Folding and throwing paper airplanes
• Online grocery shopping
• Stepping over obstacles (such as shoes or clothes)

Little things can make a big difference, Riccio says. “Don’t underestimate the impact of keeping residents on quarantine on their emotional or cognitive status. If we don’t keep people active and engaged, we see more cognitive decline and more falls. We need to be proactive not just say, ‘We will do good during 60 minutes of therapy and not worry about the other 23 hours.’ We need to think about what is happening with each resident beyond our therapy sessions.”

These activities not only can contribute to residents’ physical health, they also help keep minds active and engage people socially. “It’s not rocket science. It keeps the enthusiasm and energy going, and it’s made all the difference in the world,” Riccio says.​