Learn More About The Basics

Summary of the Basics

A Word About Time

More Detail About the Basics

A Few Key Principles to Enhance Your Time Together

About Materials and Preparing for Your Session

Summary of the Basics

Each creative caregiving lesson involves these simple, shared actions:

Select a lesson by hovering over a video image or using the navigation bar.

Enjoy a moment of Care for the Caregiver before you begin.

Explore a lesson on your own or with others.

Experience your caregiving session with your care partner. There are five components within each session. 

  1. Consciously Breathe
  2. Sing and Move
  3. Call and Response
  4. Create Together
  5. Savor the Moment
  6. And then, if you choose, let others knowabout your experience and reflections by clicking Share your Experience.

Though each section may only take a few moments, they generate powerful, evidence-based benefits for both the caregivers and their care partners. We encourage you to experience all five components of each session, even if it might feel a little awkward at first. Over time you will become very comfortable with the process!

A Word About Time

Though there are many avenues for creative caregiving, the NCCA Creative Caregiving Guide© design team has worked with caregivers and experts to create an enjoyable and effective caregiving experience that creates quality moments throughout the day.

Many people ask about how often to use the guide. Though there are no right or wrong answers, we recommend one or two times a week. As you become more comfortable with creative caregiving, you will discover that you find yourself bringing the practices into your daily life!

Most Creative Caregiving Lessons take between 10 and 25 minutes to view or review. And the actual Creative Caregiving Session with your care partner usually lasts 10-40 minutes depending on the lesson chosen.

Even though you can always adjust a session to fit your schedule, during your first few sessions together, try to honor the recommended time before making any adjustments. This will assure that you both gain the full benefit of each lesson. 

Jot down the time you begin and end viewing a lesson and also the time you begin and end a session with your care partner. You will be invited to enter the time for your lesson and session in the Feedback & Reflection section. This will help you plan your activities together, see your progress, and help in the design of future lessons. 

Take all the time you need to become comfortable with your lesson. And review it as many times as you wish. Remember, you don’t need to be perfect. You only need to be open! Your goal is to explore new ways of having fun together.


More Detail About the Basics

1 | Hover over a Lesson Image on the home page and click or select a Lesson from the drop down menu at the top of the page.

2 | Take a moment of Care for the Caregiver to refresh yourself prior to a session with your care partner.

3 | Each 10-15 minute lesson guides you through a brief introduction and preparation section followed by a focused video Learn to incorporate simple yet powerful creative activities into your caregiving routine. View the entire learning video at once or step-by-step, and you can always return for review. 

4 | Learn at your own pace as you discover ways to weave movement, music, rhythm, observation, color, and imagination into your caregiving practice. When you are comfortable with a lesson, click complete then try it out with your care partner. A handy progression bar keeps track of your progress so that you can come back and visit favorite lessons.

5 | As you complete a lesson or a creative caregiving session with your care partner you can choose to share your feedback and reflections. And soon you will be able to upload an image or video of your creative practice to a Global Gallery safely stored in the clouds!

The guide is an expanding collection of lessons so check back often to try new lessons or review your favorites!

6 | Try a lesson now! You can always come back to the Basics later with any questions. 


A Few Key Principles to Enhance Your Time Together

In every caregiving exchange you will discover how helpful it is to honor the following principles. See if you can give attention to one or two principles each time you use this guide with your care partner. 


Adaptation | Make small adjustments that honor the capacity of your care partner. If they are not able to repeat words of a song, then simply encourage them to hum with you. The lessons can be adapted for every cognitive and physical level. |For example, “Let’s hum the song and you sing the words each time they come to you!” “I know that it is a bit of a stretch to raise your arms. What if we tap our fingers together to the music or pat our hands on your legs?” “Let’s look at the window and trace the outline of the tree with our fingers.”

Adulthood | Remember that we are each unique and accomplished adults. Though there may be cognitive decline, we address our partner as an adult rather than as a child. We work to embrace the full humanity of our shared adulthood in both content and tone of voice. | Examples: “This really expresses your inner spirit.” rather than “Oh, what a pretty little picture you drew.” “Let’s work to tap your creativity while we move together.” rather than “Let’s do a little dance.”

Anticipation | Anticipate something wonderful! You will soon learn that every individual is capable of great beauty. | Examples: “Oh dad, I can’t wait to see what the grandkids think of your work!” “I wonder what color you are going to choose next?”

Attention | Bring full attention to your care partner and the lesson. | For example, “We are taking this time, just the two of us, to learn something together.”

Autonomy | Your care partner always makes the choices. You provide the framework and they make the decisions. This returns a powerful degree of autonomy that is often lost in the progression of cognitive disorders. | Examples: “What would you like to do now/next?” “What do you think this needs to look like?” “Where would you like to go from here?”

Encouragement | Always encourage yourself and your care partner. You are doing something remarkable. Though it might seem a challenge at first, encourage yourself to embrace the process and celebrate small accomplishments.| Examples: “Let’s stretch ourselves to learn something new just like great artists do it.”  “I know you can do it.”  “I am learning how to do this too. How do you think we did?” 

Gentleness | As a caregiver we work to offer our most gentle and kind words and actions. We are kind to ourselves as caregivers and kind to our care partners as companions on a shared journey.  |Examples: “Are you getting a bit tired? Can we rest a moment? All of this creativity makes me a little tired too.”

Honor | Honor the creative capacity of your care partner within their changing circumstances. The goals is to imagine what they CAN do without pressure. Give high regard to the innate capacity for creativity and beauty that make us beautifully human beings. | Examples: “I see that you got the giggles when we were singing. Shall we sing some more and have a good laugh?”

Inclusion | Celebrate and integrate the remarkable spectrum of social, cultural, ethnic, community, faith, gender, and generational diversity that is readily available. | Examples: “Let’s look online at some museums in Mexico to find some art that reminds you of home.” “What are some of your favorite French songs? We can look up online and then you can help me pronounce the words when we sing them.”

Mastery | Recognize that both you and your care partner are capable of mastering these lessons. You WILL learn ways to provide a quality day for your care partner. And your care partner will surprise you with their capacity for creativity, humor, and beauty. You will both master different ways of experiencing the caregiving process.  | Examples: “How beautifully you applied that paint.” “You have taken such great care with placing those leaves. It takes my breath away.” “You just taught me how to move with flare!” “Can you believe that we just wrote such a powerful poem?!”

Non-Judgment | A wrong way does not exist! Learn to discover wonder and surprise in every act of intention, without judging the experience. | Examples: ”What a wonderful choice you made!” “I never would have thought of that.”

Reciprocity | Recognize that your caregiving partner has much to offer when we remain open. | Examples: “I had forgotten what it was like to sing with gusto. I always hold back. Thank you for teaching me that lesson again.” “I learn so much from you every time we work on a project together.”

Reminiscence | One of the gifts of these creative practices is that you will soon discover the wonderful long-term memories that remain beyond the fading of short term memory. Take a journey with your care partner to the time and place of their choosing and let it become a fresh memory in the here and now. You may find yourself dancing at a USO during the war, picking flowers along a lake in Mexico, or riding a train to New York. Wherever they are, make the journey with them. Ask how things taste, smell, sound, look, and feel. | Examples: “Oh mom, I hadn’t remembered that in years.” “Oh, so you are at your home in Virginia. What do you see? What does it smell like? Are there flowers? What color are they?” “What is that tune again? How does it go?” “It sounds like you are in San Francisco. What was it like living in San Francisco? What is your favorite food there? What does the fog look like when it comes over the hills?”

Respect | Respect guides every interaction with adults who have cognitive disorders. Treat them as equals worthy of our shared humanity for the lives they have lived and continue to live. | Examples: “I see how you work hard to create wonderful things.” “Thank you for teaching me about life today.” “You are so creative. You help me enjoy life by watching you create.” “I so respect you for trying this.”

Savor the Moment | Savoring together is the heart and power of creative caregiving. If we are able to recognize each moment as a jewel of creativity, then our daily routines can be enriched in ways that allow us to flourish. Recognizing creativity in the way we conduct our everyday activities—cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, walks, and going to bed—will provide remarkable opportunities for storytelling. | Examples: “This is one of the most wonderful feelings, being here with you right now!” “I am having so much fun creating something together. It makes the afternoon seem like having a party!” “I am rejuvenated when we laugh together like this.”

And above all else…

HAVE FUN! | We really mean it. Physical, emotional, and social benefits are all enhanced when we have fun!


About Materials and Preparing for Your Session

1 | About Gathering Materials for your Lessons

Most NCCA Creative Caregiving sessions include a small amount of preparation.  Much like collecting ingredients for the kitchen, you can enjoy gathering supplies as part of the fun. 

Some items you will have around the house. Other items you may want to purchase from the same places you purchase school or craft supplies. And a few of the lessons have links provided to purchase specialized art supplies online.

2 | Helpful Materials to Have on Hand

If you like to collect ahead, here is a master list of supplies that you might need to purchase for some of the lessons. Many people prefer to collect a creativity kit in a handy, accessible bin.

  • Pencils and pens| To write in, create poems,  and take notes
  • Writing paper and journals | To write special poems and songs
  • A smart phone or camera| To capture photos and videos of your project that can be uploaded to the NCCA Creative Caregiving Global Gallery. (Under development.)
  • A list of songs or recordings of favorite songs| Favorites of your caregiving partner
  • A list of poems or books of poems| Gather favorites of your caregiving partner, you can print them out or write them in a journal, to use as prompts
  • Family photographs| Gather favorites of your caregiving partner as prompts
  • Snapshots from magazines of paintings and images| Gather favorites of your caregiving partner as prompts
  • Watercolor paper| To create and print
  • Scrap paper| To communicate visually such as showing the effects of color blending, images created by certain art tools
  • Fresh leaves from the yard(redbud, tulip tree, maple, buckeye, and oak work well) | To use as collage material.
  • Small Tubes of Acrylic paint(all colors) | To add color
  • Paper plates| To use as a paint palette
  • Paint brush or sponges| To transfer color
  • Rags/paper towel| For cleanup
  • Watercolor paint | To add color and transfers
  • Mod Podge(glue) | To secure items
  • Rice paper or thin art tissue paper(white) | for collage