Here is some more information about DragThing, in addition to com. BOY's answer.
I have owned and used this program for more than ten years. There is a free trial; the app costs US $29.
Among other features, DragThing can be configured to display a floating "Process Dock", a panel of the icons of applications that are currently open and running -- and only the ones currently running. Unlike the Dock, it does not show icons of applications that are not running right now. (You can create other panels or docks to display tabbed groups of icons of frequently-used applications that you want to launch.)
You can position DragThings' Process Dock on the bottom of the screen if you want; I have it in the upper-right corner of my screen. Visually, you can choose from many different color schemes and designs. I chose the "heads-up-display" translucent black design.
In the "Process Dock", clicking on one of these open application icons will immediately bring that application to the forefront. This is analogous to the bar at the bottom of the Windows desktop.
There are four kinds of panels or docks that DragThing can create:
- Dock to show tabbed multiple panels of your favorite apps organized
and grouped any way you like
- Disk Dock to show connected hard disks, CDs and DVDs, and servers
- Process Dock, as I have discussed above
- Window Dock to show open application windows (your elderly relative might be able to use this too.)
DragThing is not designed to be "Windows-like". If anything, it resembles features of Mac OS 9, the "classic" MacOS. But I think it will do the trick.
DragThing has myriad configuration settings that you can customize; far too many. It's daunting. But once you figure out the features and configure it the way you want, it will just work.
I have used DragThing for more than ten years. I can't live without it.
Having configured everything I want in two DragThing panels: a Process Dock in the upper right-hand corner of my screen; and a tabbed icon panel on the bottom of my screen, I subsequently banished Apple's Dock off the screen and I virtually never use or look at Apple's Dock anymore.
Here is a review of DragThing from MacWorld Magazine from two months ago.
If you can't figure out how to configure DragThing to function like you want, you can email the developer, James Tomson, for tech support.