CHAPEL HILL — Caregivers of people living with dementia often feel isolated. This was especially true when COVID-19 restrictions kept many caregivers at home with few places to go safely.
Chatham County caregivers and their loved ones will now have a dedicated place to relax, walk, and take in nature. The community is invited to join the Chatham County Council on Aging, Chatham County Parks and Recreation, and the Chatham County Center of N.C. Cooperative Extension Service for a special dedication ceremony of Peaceful Pathways for Caregivers. The respite area at Northeast District Park features an accessible pathway and picnic shelter that will be dedicated to Chatham County caregivers.
The Reflections and a Dedication of Peaceful Pathways for Caregivers ceremony will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at Northeast District Park at 5408 Big Woods Rd., Chapel Hill. The ceremony will remember and honor those with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, other chronic conditions, as well as their caregivers. The ceremony will also feature Teepa Snow, owner of Positive Approach to Care, which educates family and professional care providers about living with dementia. Seating will be limited at this event, and attendees are asked to please bring their own chairs if they wish.
“The idea for the Peaceful Pathways for Caregivers came about when many of Chatham’s caregivers were telling us they had not left their homes, and they had no visitors to interact with,” said Susan Hardy, family caregiver specialist and Human Services team leader with the Chatham County Council on Aging. “Caregivers told us they were feeling very alone and exhausted. Being able to interact with others is extremely important in preventing caregiver burnout. A peaceful walk while taking in nature is a good stress reliever, especially for those who are caring for others.”
“It is an honor to partner with the Council on Aging and N.C. Cooperative Extension Service to provide an area at a park to allow caregivers a place outdoors to spend time with their loved ones,” said Tracy Burnett, Chatham County Parks and Recreation director. “We hope to incorporate more of these peaceful pathways in other Chatham County parks.”
Ginger Cunningham, the director of Chatham County Cooperative Extension, said nature and garden spaces have long been valued as refuges for both fulfillment and solace.
“So creating such places of refuge here in the county is near and dear to so many of us,” she said. “Horticulture is such an amazing medium for positive change in the realms of physical health, social engagement, cognitive processes, and overall emotional well-being. We are thankful to the Council on Aging and Parks and Recreation for spearheading this loving project for our community members.”
The Nov. 10th event takes place during what the Chatham County Board of Commissioners has proclaimed as Family Caregivers and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
For more information about Peaceful Pathways for Caregivers or its dedication ceremony, individuals may contact the Chatham County Council on Aging at 919-542-4512, Chatham County Parks and Recreation at 919-545-8555 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Chatham County NC Cooperative Extension Service at 919-542-8202.