Asbury starts ministry for people with memory loss

HOOVER – Asbury United Methodist Church is starting a new ministry for people who have memory loss due to dementia or stroke.

The first session for the new Anchor Community Respite Ministry will be Oct. 1, and sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday.

In addition to benefits for participants, the ministry offers caregivers an opportunity to run errands, visit with friends or simply rest.

In fact, the idea for Anchor Community Respite grew out of a Care Connect group at Asbury designed to offer caregivers a place to share experiences and receive support.

“From those meetings, we realized there is a need for the care partner and the person with memory loss to go and have some stimulation,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a place to engage and interact.”

Care Connect is held at 5:30 p.m. each Sunday.

Asbury Congregational Care Director Maggie Dunaway learned about ministries similar to Anchor at Canterbury United Methodist Church in Mountain Brook and First United Methodist Church of Montgomery and set wheels in motion.

A barbecue and chili cookoff was held over the summer, generating about $10,000 used to launch the program.

Gina McIntyre was selected to serve as the program director.

Anchor Community Respite Ministry is open to the community. The cost to participate is $40 per day, which includes lunch, but Gonzalez said those interested who might not be able to afford the fee should still contact the church as scholarships are available.

Participants must be able to walk without the assistance of a cane or walker, attend to restroom needs unassisted, participate in social activities and feed themselves.

“Part of the beauty of this program is our participants aren’t treated as participants,” Gonzalez said. “As soon as they come in, we ask them to help other people. You wouldn’t know who is a volunteer and who is there as a participant. It gives them a sense of purpose and can combat some of the issues they are dealing with.”

For more information about registration, contact McIntyre at gmcintyre@asburyonline.org or 995-1700.

About 45 volunteers have already committed to help with the program and have undergone training. Most of the volunteers attend Asbury, but some do not.

Anyone interested in volunteering should also contact McIntyre.

A typical day at Anchor is structured as follows:

  • 10-10:30: Coffee, socialization, table time (puzzles, word searches, etc.)
  • 10:30-11: Physical fitness (balloon volleyball, bowling, chair yoga)
  • 11-11:30: Lemonade and brain fitness (trivia, brainstorming, creative writing)
  • 11:30-noon: Activities/games (guest speakers, bingo, wheel of fortune)
  • Noon-12:30 p.m.: Family-style meal (lunch and dessert)
  • 12:30-1: Physical fitness (stretching, dancing)
  • 1-1:30: Art (painting, coloring, crafting)
  • 1:30-2: Music (singing, guest musical performances)