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Islip to partner with Alzheimer’s, dementia services group

Debbie McCabe, Paul Steinberg, Dorothy Obrylka and John

Debbie McCabe, Paul Steinberg, Dorothy Obrylka and John Belford take part in a recreation program on Thursday at the Alzheimer's Disease Resource Center in Bay Shore. Credit: John Roca

By the numbers

400,000 — Estimated number of New Yorkers with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018

$236 billion — Nationwide cost of treating Alzheimer’s and dementia in 2016

1 billion — Number of caregivers nationwide for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia in 2015

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

The Town of Islip is partnering with a Bay Shore group to serve the growing population of people on Long Island with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Officials from the town’s Senior Citizens Services office are meeting later this month with leaders at the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center to formulate a plan for working together, including the town referring people to the facility’s resources.

Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said the goal is to ensure the many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia who are already using the town’s senior services will now also be able to access specialized help available through the resource center.

The number of people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia in New York State increased by 80,000 people to 400,000 in 2018, compared with 320,000 in 2010 according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The number is expected to increase by 15 percent to 460,000 people by 2025.

“As our population in the town and on the Island is getting older it’s [Alzheimer’s is] becoming more prevalent,” Carpenter said. “The fact that people are willing to talk about it more openly makes it easier to provide those services.”

Each family that connects with the center has the opportunity to sit down with an expert and formulate a plan for how to deal with the medical, legal and emotional issues that come with such a diagnosis.

“Our job is to support the families so that we can keep their loved ones in their homes as long as possible,” said Mary Ann Malack-Ragona, executive director of the center. “If you can put support services in place, you can keep people in their homes for two more years. If you can save the state, county, anybody that’s involved . . . two years’ worth of nursing home fees, it’s a tremendous amount of money.”

In addition to its main office in Bay Shore, the center has satellite offices in Garden City, Lake Success, Valley Stream, Huntington Station and Southampton. Altogether, they serve more than 3,000 families each year in donated office space.

For people like Maria Pecorale, 75, of West Islip, resources through the center have been critical to helping her husband Tony, 82, stay out of a nursing home.

“As long as they [people with dementia and Alzheimer’s] know some things, we want to keep them in their home,” Pecorale said. “They still have some sense that they’re in their home that they’ve been in — in our case for 53 years. It’s a more stable situation.”

Pecorale said taking her husband to the art classes offered at the center have benefited her too, by offering her a place to socialize with other primary caregivers who have little respite from their responsibilities.

“We get more out of it than our spouses do,” she said. “We’re here giving them some kind of socializing, but we’re also here giving ourselves somewhere to vent.”

Pecorale said that caregivers like herself save the government money by allowing their spouses to age in place instead of going into an expensive nursing home. Aging at home is part of the center’s mission.

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