MACON, Ga. — Caring for an adult with dementia or some other debilitating illness is a like a full-time job.

Now, a Macon church is stepping in to give loved ones who act as caretakers a much needed break. 

Welcome to Forest Hill UMC's Sanctuary Respite Ministry.

Leigh Hinton is the director and she got things going three months ago.

"We have cornhole, we have golf, we have volleyball," she said.

In other words, it's a time for folks with dementia or who have had a stroke to have fun for a few hours a day.

"We enable our friends to thrive through socialization," Hinton said.

She says socialization looks different for different people.

Moving around and having a good time is important, but what you can't see is equally important.

Bob Decker and his wife Dee have been married 59 years, and she has dementia.

"We had a caregiver for some time, but she retired," he said.

When Bob drops Dee off, he leaves confident that she is happy and taken care of.

"It's a blessing...she's really enjoying it and otherwise she just stays around the house," he said.

Dianne Roberts is married to Marvin. She says he's been sick for nine years.

"When I pick him up, he's been playing volleyball, he's sweating, he's been dancing. He's been doing this and I didn't realize how badly he needed it," she exclaimed.

Dianne says Marvin's neurologist thinks this program is a bonus, but it's also a breather in her own life.

"It's a godsend the way that he is functioning [and] laughing," she said.

It's a win-win that plays out during a difficult time.

There's laughing, smiling and hugs from folks that don't connect to the world in the usual way.

There are a couple of requirements for folks to participate in the program. They have to be able to walk, go to the bathroom, and feed themselves.

It's $40 per day and you don't have to belong to the church. For more information, you can call Leigh at (478) 259-3627.

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