Respite Care Relief Park in East Meadow's Eisenhower Park helps families affected by dementia-related illnesses
EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- There are now more than 410,000 people in New York state living with Alzheimer's disease.
A new site has opened on Long Island offering respite to those afflicted and their loved ones.
Arthur Dozier of Freeport is a devoted partner, helping navigate his wife, Sandra, through a heartbreaking Alzheimer's journey.
"Sandra worked for years at Queensborough Community College as a counselor. She is a Ph.D. psychologist," Arthur Dozier said.
Alzheimer's can strike quickly. Two years ago, Sandra Dozier was Professor Dozier, teaching multiple classes.
"Changes that occurred over such a short time is devastating. She's always been the heart and soul of my family," Arthur Dozier said.
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Looking for solace, the Doziers sought refuge at the just-opened Respite Care Relief Park in East Meadow's Eisenhower Park for families affected by dementia-related illnesses.
"God bless whoever came up with this idea," caretaker and husband Jeff Ray said.
Ray's wife, Bonnie, is struggling, too.
"When it's a spouse, it's very close to your heart," Jeff Ray said.
Jeff Ray and Arthur Dozier met for the first time at the gazebo.
"We can come and talk. It's almost like a support group," Jeff Ray said.
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The site affords the 50,000 Long Islanders afflicted by the disease and their caregivers a space to relax while learning about services and therapeutic activities.
Advocates say a majority of Long Islanders living with Alzhemier's or dementia spend the day inside with an aide and no place to go.
Charles Fuschillo is president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
"Isolation and loneliness," Fuschillo said.
Sandra Dozier smiled when asked if she likes it there.
"So much time is spent isolated and inside gives a person a chance to go be with nature," Arthur Dozier said.
The Respite site is just above the lake adjacent to Field 6 in Eisenhower Park. It is largely funded by the Manhattan-based Mother Cabrini Health Foundation and is thought to be just the second such facility in the nation.
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