Tulsa Becomes Oklahoma’s First Dementia Friendly City

From Tulsa’s Mayor By G.T. BYNUM
Mayor of Tulsa

More than 6,000 individuals age 65 and older in Tulsa live with some form of dementia. Individuals living with dementia have on average three or more people who provide care for them. This means around 24,000 people in our community have dementia or care for someone with the condition. To put this number into perspective that many people would fill ONEOK Field three times.

A key fact to know is that dementia’s progression can take from four to 20 years, which means people with dementia can shop, participate in community activities, worship, play, handle business transactions and enjoy social lives much longer than society acknowledges. As more Tulsans experience the effects of cognitive decline, we need to find ways to assist them and their caregivers in positive ways that promote kindness and safety for the benefit of all. That is why earlier this year Tulsa became the first city in Oklahoma designated as a dementia friendly city.

As part of Tulsa’s first steps, we hosted the Dementia Friendly Tulsa Symposium last April and surveyed stakeholders on how we can better serve our community members with dementia, as well as their caregivers. Last June, INCOG became the City’s lead partner to develop the Dementia Friendly Tulsa steering committee, allowing us to tap into the expertise and existing resources readily available in our community.

Clark Miller, director of INCOG Area Agency on Aging, chairs the Dementia Friendly Tulsa Steering Committee, which includes the following members: Chief Michael Baker, Tulsa Fire Dept. Division; Marquay Baul, vice president of private banking, Arvest Bank; Grace Burke, director, geriatric programs, Morton Comprehensive Health Services; Greg Burn, senior vice president, marketing, CommunityCare of Oklahoma; Steve Dickie, , Oklahoma Methodist Manor; Mark Fried, president and , Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma Chapter; Alysha Hiltbrand, director of human resources, Senior Services; Lindsay Morris, marketing and communications manager, Saint Simeon’s Senior Community; Letitia Jackson, senior vice president, Senior Star; Captain Shellie Seibert, Tulsa Police Department; Christina Starzl Mendoza, community development and policy assistant, City of Tulsa Mayor’s Office; Zack Stoycoff, vice president of government affairs, Tulsa Regional Chamber; and Dr. Michael Weisz, Department of Internal Medicine, OU-Tulsa.

Since its launch, Dementia Friendly Tulsa has implemented a simple, zero-cost training to help increase community awareness about how to help individuals impacted by dementia. Parlour Salon, a locally owned business, became the first to receive the Dementia Friendly Tulsa training. Following Parlour Salon’s lead, First Baptist Church and the Tulsa Fire Department received tailored training to help them better understand ways their members and employees can better serve those impacted by dementia. Whether they participate in small or large groups, attendees learn simple communication skills and actions to help optimize community involvement for those with cognitive impairment and their care partners.

All Tulsa businesses, schools, faith-based groups, and organizations are welcome to schedule a free training session in 2018. For more information about Dementia Friendly Tulsa, visit www.dftulsa.org.

Updated 01-26-2018

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