Respite Park For Dementia Patients Set To Open In Babylon

BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Millions of American families are struggling with caring for relatives with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases.

Now on Long Island, a new park is being built to help them deal with their stress.

As CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported, Town of Babylon workers on Monday took advantage of the beautiful weather to begin creating what is being called a respite park. It is right outside of the town hall and next to a children’s playground, and the idea is to create a zone of tranquility.

“It’s geared for caretakers and family members to bring aging parents or elderly parents suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s,” said Gerry Compitello of the Town of Babylon.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America estimates that there are more than 50,000 Long Islanders dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia-related ailments. So the organization awarded the Town of Babylon a $25,000 grant to build what it hopes will become a national model for helping to treat these syndromes.

“I deal with spasms,” said Ron Drapala. “My head shakes and I’m forgetful.”

Drapala, a retired teamster, suffers from a neurological disorder that can lead to dementia. He loves to take his grandchildren to the playground, and now, he is looking forward to visiting the respite park as well.

“You come here, you can relax, you can watch the kids play too – it’s meditative,” he said.

Meditation is the goal. To achieve it, town workers will remodel the existing brick walkway to plant flowers with soothing sense. The respite park will also befitted with USB chargers so anyone can use their cellphones or iPods to listen to soothing music.

There will also be new benches with a view of the park’s pond.

The space will be open to families visiting from anywhere. That is comforting to Angela Marzocca of Centereach, who has a relative combatting dementia.

“Sometimes, a family has to make difficult choices for their loved ones, so this is a very nice place to come to,” Marzocca said.

If the weather cooperates, this place of respite – of peace and quiet – will be open by the end of the month.

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