The Town of Babylon last week unveiled a new park dedicated to those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
The Respite Care Relief Park is located within Babylon Town Hall Park. The park within a park was created by the town using a $25,000 grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The national nonprofit said it plans to use the park as a model for other municipalities across the country.
“This new park will be a tremendous resource for caregivers,” former state Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick), president and chief executive of the organization, said in a statement. “Socialization, interacting with others and getting out of the house are all critically important steps which help prevent caregiver burnout and improve the quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease.”
The park features a new gazebo fitted with USB ports to charge cellphones and iPods so visitors can listen to music. The park also is surrounded by a mix of purple and yellow flowers, with other plantings slated to bloom at different times of the year. Music and the scent and sight of flowers can be calming for both patients and caregivers, Alzheimer’s experts said.
The park also has widened walkways to accommodate visitors with physical disabilities. Alongside the walkways are placards with facts about Alzheimer’s and information for caregivers, such as therapeutic activities for patients and tips for managing stress.
According to the national Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, and it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. The organization estimates that there are 15 million Americans providing unpaid care for dementia patients, a job that often puts a strain on caregivers’ finances as well as their physical and emotional health.
Bert Brodsky, board chairman of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, in a statement called the park a new tool to improve the quality of life for caregivers and patients. Brodsky founded the organization in 2002 after being a caregiver for his mother, who had the disease.
“Isolation is unhealthy and harmful for both caregivers and people with Alzheimer’s,” he said. “This park gives them a dementia-friendly place where they can go to relax, socialize and get support.”
To keep costs down, the town did the park work in-house. While most of the renovation is complete, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said, the town plans to add benches to the gazebo.