Georgia church opens outreach center to help dementia patients and their caregivers

The Margaret Jo Hogg Alzheimer’s Outreach Center in Albany, Georgia. The facility derived from a ministry of First United Methodist Church of Albany, Georgia.
The Margaret Jo Hogg Alzheimer’s Outreach Center in Albany, Georgia. The facility derived from a ministry of First United Methodist Church of Albany, Georgia. | The Levee Studios

A church in Georgia has opened a new facility to minister to both those suffering from dementia and their caregivers, for whom they also offer resources and respite.  

First United Methodist Church of Albany has been looking after those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other dementia illnesses, as well as their caregivers, since 1988.

Last July, they completed a new building for their Margaret Jo Hogg Alzheimer’s Outreach Center, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility was not officially opened until January.

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Nancy Goode, executive director of the Alzheimer's Outreach Center, told The Christian Post in an interview Wednesday that they “provide trusted professional care for those with any type of dementia.”

For the price of five dollars per day, the facility provides a morning and afternoon snack as well as a hot lunch. Patients have several daily activities, including crafts, music, pet therapy, and reminiscence therapy. 

As described by the Elder Care Alliance, reminiscence therapy involves using “all the senses — sight, touch, taste, smell and sound — to help individuals with dementia remember events, people and places from their past lives.”

Patients are allowed to access the entire building, with the facility boasting a “beautiful garden and terrace area,” according to Goode.

The facility allows families to leave a patient with them for six hours a day, Monday through Friday, with Goode telling CP that caring for someone with dementia is a “36-hour day.”

“When families come to us after a recent diagnosis, we can give them information packets, individual guidance and help them navigate the new normal. We are available by phone anytime should emergencies arise. There is no charge for any of these programs,” explained Goode.

“For the caregivers, of course, the respite is the main thing. However, we offer a monthly support group, quarterly opportunities to attend programs and workshops about dementia, caregiving and resources available.”

For caregivers, in particular, Goode told CP that she hoped they “realize that they are not alone in this situation and there is help available through the many resources that we are able to provide or point them to.”

Goode stressed the importance of churches needing to look after those with dementia and the people who care for them, telling CP that they "need to know that there are resources available to them."

"I plan to start a program, when COVID will let us, where I will go into churches and present a basic overview of dementia, behavior issues and resources available," said Goode.

"Some people get overwhelmed after the diagnosis and don't know where to turn and I would like to help them realize they are not alone in this situation. Churches should be a major part in helping their members and community."

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5 million Americans suffer from the disease, with it being the sixth-leading cause of death for people living in the United States.

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