EAST MEADOW, Long Island (PIX11) – The first dementia-friendly park in Nassau County is now open and is meant to provide relief for both the person diagnosed and their caretaker.
The park is the second of its kind on Long Island and the second in the nation and is open to tens of thousands of people living with the disease in the area.
“There [are] more than 50,000 people on Long Island that are living with Alzheimer’s disease [and] more than 100,000 caregivers,” said Charles Fuschillo, president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
The Respite Care Relief Park is in Eisenhower Park near Field Six. Nassau County officials and AFA officially opened it to the public on Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Bert Brodsky, the founder of AFA, created the organization to give access to resources he wished his mother had.
“My mom was locked up in an apartment with an aide,” Brodsky said. “She could’ve been out here in the country, looking at the water, looking at the trees, hear the birds and not be indoors.”
Comptroller Elaine Phillips said the park could be beneficial for her in-laws. Her father-in-law has Alzheimer’s, and her mother-in-law was the caregiver.
“For my father-in-law, to be out in the sun and a place to rest, but for my mother-in-law— to be around nature,” Phillips said.
Surrounding the gazebo is educational information about the disease and tips for caretakers.
“It also gives the caregivers an opportunity to have a timeout and take care of themselves as well,” Fuschillo said.
“It’s about a place where people can go to be with nature in a peaceful setting,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman added.
By avoiding isolation and loneliness, they can feel safe bringing out the person they’re looking after and potentially meet others and not go on this journey alone.
Officials hope to bring many more of these dementia-friendly parks throughout Long Island. Still, Westchesterster may be next, as they’re currently collaborating with the City of Yonkers to build one in the fall.