Caring for loved ones? The Asbury Anchor program makes it easier

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Volunteers from Asbury’s Anchor program. Photo via Asbury United Methodist Church

Are you caring for someone with memory loss or dementia? Help is just a click away with Asbury United Methodist’s Anchor Community Respite Ministry. Read on to learn what one local had to say about her experience with the program and how to enroll your loved one.

A win for participants and care partners

While Asbury managed to continue the Anchor program virtually throughout the pandemic, they are thrilled to officially reopen their doors to in-person gatherings on Tuesday, July 13.

To learn more about Anchor, I spoke with Brooklyn White, a Birmingham native who experienced the program first-hand.

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Puzzles are just one of the activities in Asbury’s Anchor program. Photo via Asbury United Methodist Church

Bham Now: What led you to use Asbury’s anchor program? How long have you used it?

Brooklyn: My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2012. He received an additional diagnosis of Dementia in 2015. Our team of Neurologists at the Kirklin Clinic had mentioned a program similar to Anchor that was taking place at Canterbury United Methodist Church. Unfortunately, that was a little too far for my mom to drive, and I was working full time and unable to take my dad to the program. I was elated when I found out that Asbury was going to start a similar program.

Brooklyn made the decision to sign up as an Anchor volunteer and participated in the program with her dad from its inception until the start of the pandemic.

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Participants of Anchor can enjoy art and other activities. Photo via Asbury United Methodist Church

Bham Now: What stood out most to you about the program?

Brooklyn: The program is a win-win for the caregiver and the loved one impacted by dementia. I love the fact that participants aren’t made to feel like participants or patients. They feel like they are gathering with friends at a typical event.

Bham Now: Why do you feel the program is important and in what ways do you think it’s beneficial to those across Birmingham? 

Brooklyn: Nobody really knows what it is like to be a caregiver until you become a primary caregiver. Watching your loved one be challenged by such unique behaviors that come with dementia is emotional and exhausting. Also, not many people know how to react and interact with those with dementia and memory loss issues—especially those closest to them. It can be very isolating not only for them, but also for their caregivers.

Breaking down isolation barriers for participants and care partners is one of the main goals of Asbury’s Anchor program. 

For program participants, Anchor provides fellowship and stimulation to people living with memory loss due to dementia or stroke; for caregivers, it allows a much-needed break to run errands, visit with friends or rest. 

Bham Now: Do you feel Asbury’s Anchor program meets its goals for participants and care partners?

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Good times during Asbury’s Anchor program. Photo via Asbury United Methodist Church

Brooklyn: Absolutely. The days my dad attended Anchor were better days at home because he had engaged with others.

One activity the program offered for Brooklyn’s dad was the chance to help with mission projects by stuffing bags for the homeless and others in need.

Brooklyn: It gave my dad purpose…something everyone desires. It made him feel great because he was contributing to something for the greater good…not just stuck at home in his chair watching another episode of Gunsmoke.

For Brooklyn, Asbury’s Anchor program allowed her that much-needed time away from her responsibilities of caring for her father. She also told me that the program allowed her to feel confident and comfortable when separating from her father because she knew he’d be in good hands while she was away. 

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The Anchor program provides an outlet for both participants and care providers. Photo via Asbury United Methodist Church

Bham Now: What else do you think we should know about your experience with Asbury’s Anchor program or the program in general? 

Brooklyn: I just can’t say enough about how important and amazing this program is for those who need the love, support, encouragement and prayers while going through this journey—both for the person impacted by dementia but also the caregiver.

Extra Assistance for Care Partners

Care partners can get even more from the program by participating in Anchor’s monthly support group, which meets on the first and third Thursday each month.

During the meetings, care partners can share their ideas and concerns with other care partners who are experiencing similar situations. They can also learn from memory loss professionals.

A typical day for Asbury’s Anchor program

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Balloon volleyball is trending. Photo via Asbury United Methodist Church

Wondering what a typical day looks like for participants of Asbury’s Anchor program? Here’s a look at the schedule:

  • 10-10:30AM: Arrival, Coffee, Socialization, Table Time (puzzles, word searches)
  • 10:30-11AM: Physical Fitness (balloon volleyball, bowling, chair yoga)
  • 11-11:30AM: Lemonade and Brain Fitness (trivia, brainstorming, creative writing)
  • 11:30AM-Noon: Activities + Games (guest speakers, bingo, wheel of fortune)
  • Noon-12:30PM: Family-style meal (lunch + dessert)
  • 12:30-1PM: Physical Fitness (stretching, dancing)
  • 1-1:30PM: Art (painting, coloring, crafting)
  • 1:30-2PM: Music (singing, guest musical performances)

Ready to enroll?

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Excited to enroll in Asbury’s Anchor program? Photo via Asbury United Methodist Church

Here’s what to know to sign up your loved one for Asbury’s Anchor program:

1. Ensure they qualify for enrollment.

All participants must be able to:

  • Walk without assistance or with assistance of cane/walker
  • Attend to restroom needs unassisted
  • Participate in social activities
  • Feed themselves

*Asbury also requires a completed medical examination form from each participant’s physician, as well as a list of each participant’s medications.

2. Schedule a tour of the Respite Care Center.

Contact Anchor Director Gina McIntryre via phone (205.529.6353)or email (gmcintryre@asburyonline.org) to schedule a tour and to receive an enrollment form.

Cost for care is $40 per day. Scholarships are also available.

Want to learn more about the ministry behind Anchor? Visit Asbury United Methodist’s website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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