- Associated Press - Sunday, December 14, 2014

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - Mike Long’s 98-year-old grandfather does not get much exercise.

Long, of Frederick, said he tries to get his grandfather to go on walks, but his grandfather will only go with his caretaker.

Often, the only walking his grandfather does in a day is in a hallway in their house, which he has counted is 27 steps long.

If there were a place they could go that is safe yet engaging, Long said he assumes his grandfather would be much more active.

Long, along with other members of the city of Frederick’s Parks and Recreation Commission, gave their support Dec. 9 for a new kind of park in the city that would provide mental and physical health activities for seniors.

Sue Paul, chief operating officer of Baker Rehab Group and an occupational therapist who specializes in dementia, is spearheading the effort to bring this type of park to Frederick.

It would have amenities both for older adults who want to keep their brains and bodies healthy, as well as caretakers or therapists looking for somewhere to take seniors with dementia. Paul calls it the SIMPLE Park, as it will include features for Sensory Integration, Movement, Proprioception, Learning and Exercise.

Paul presented her idea to the commission Dec. 9, stating that she felt the best place for the new park would be Monocacy Village Park, between East Street and Schifferstadt Boulevard, with an entrance off Delaware Road.

The park is handicap-accessible, has an area for the concept directly adjacent to parking, and has restrooms, she said.

Roelkey Myers, deputy director of parks and recreation for the city, said he agrees on the location choice.

The commission is sending a positive recommendation to the mayor and Board of Aldermen, who will consider if the space could be used for this purpose and if the city will contribute resources and finances for the project.

Paul estimates the park, with brain and balance stations, fencing, fitness equipment, handrails, sidewalks and surfacing, will cost about $75,000.

The commission is recommending the city work with partners that would benefit from the project.

Representatives from local organizations and companies attended the meeting to show their support for Paul’s idea, including Frederick Memorial Hospital, Baker Rehab Group, Daybreak Adult Day Services, Frederick County Commission on Aging, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter, and U.S. Rep. John Delaney’s office.

Frederick should jump at this chance to introduce the first park of this kind in Maryland, said Larry Hill, a member of the commission and a retired landscape architect.

The city should be thinking about ways to incorporate activities for seniors in all of its playgrounds, considering Frederick’s aging population, Hill said.

“This is something we have to be moving toward in every playground we provide,” he said.

It is estimated that the number of residents in Frederick County who are 60 or older will more than double from 2013 to 2030, from about 37,000 to more than 77,000, according to a 2013 county report.

Both Daybreak Adult Day Services and Sunrise of Frederick would appreciate having the park, so that their seniors would have a safe place to go on trips, said Julie Christiansen, who has worked at both facilities and is now with Baker Rehab Group.

Christiansen said she had difficulty finding different places that they could go.

“This (park) would have been a godsend,” she said.


Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, https://www.fredericknewspost.com

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