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February 01, 2023

Where Every Family Matters

Supporting Dementia Caregivers at First UMC

Dementia’s physical, psychological and economic impacts affect not only people living with dementia, but also their caregivers and families.

A recent $10,000 grant from ENCORE Ministry helped fund an executive director’s position for We Remember You at Murfreesboro’s First United Methodist Church. The program provides holistic and all-encompassing support to family caregivers of persons living with dementia. It also supports community education programs.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide and nearly 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year.

FUMC member and congregational care lay minister Lee Ann Hyatt, RN, BSN, started the program in 2021 after noticing an increase of congregants diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s and the stress on family caregivers. Hyatt and FUMC executive pastor Krislyn Durham discussed a support ministry for family members of people living with dementia.

“As often happens when God implants an idea, I could not get it out of my head. I realized this ministry needed to serve a much broader group in Rutherford County than just those at FUMC. I conducted a needs search and found out no other agency in Rutherford County provided the services that We Remember You offers.”

Making an impact with dementia

Support groups, caregiver classes at a local senior center, one-on-one consultations,and community presentations on topics related to dementia/Alzheimer’s are just some of the ways the program makes an impact.

“From an initial support group with six family caregivers of persons with dementia, we have grown to three support groups, a monthly class with a planned curriculum through 2023, and a short weekly broadcast on WQJZ 103.9. Combining those activities with office consultations and home, facility, and hospital visits, we serve about 50 families,” Hyatt said.

Congregants and community members alike benefit from We Remember You.

Sharing her experience, Pam D. said, “I was stressed and needed relief. In January 2020, my spouse agreed to attend an adult day program. In December, he couldn’t go anymore because he couldn’t find his way to the bathroom and he was confused and irritable. I tried in-home care, but the four hours a day wasn’t enough to relieve the stress. I began attending a We Remember You caregiver support group. It helped to hear others’ stories. While our loved ones are in different places in their journeys, I learned from group members’ experiences and they from mine. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease. It steals minds, relationships, and persons’ pasts. I couldn’t help my husband without the support of We Remember You.”

Katy G. said, “I am blessed because my mom goes to church with Lee Ann. I learned about We Remember You early on. I’ve been attending support group meetings from the beginning.”

As the proportion of older adults increases, so will the number of people living with dementia. The number is expected to rise to 78 million in 2030 and to 139 million in 2050.

Future goals

  • Increase awareness of the program’s services by offering educational presentations and networking with pastors and physicians
  • Hold a yearly caregiver conference starting in 2023
  • Increase the number of support groups
  • Establish a grief support group for caregivers who have lost a loved one to death
  • Improve their presence in minority and economically disadvantaged populations
  • Develop a respite scholarship program

“From the moment We Remember You was conceived in my mind, God has been at work. The entire project was unfolded by God, and God continues to bless us by placing all the right people to assist us. I am thankful to ENCORE Ministry for helping fund this program thereby enabling us to sustain our vital services,” Hyatt said.

For more information about We Remember You, visit werememberyoucg.com.

 

About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing and Entertainment Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra.