The Dementia Friendly Tulsa initiative recently found new momentum, with OU-Tulsa becoming a partner to help secure Tulsa’s designation as a dementia-friendly community.
Dementia Friendly America (DFA) is a national network of communities equipped to support people affected by dementias. DFA has established criteria for entities seeking formal Dementia Friendly designation. Its primary objective is to make it possible for people living with dementia to remain in community and engaged in day-to-day activities to the greatest extent possible.
Participation in DFA is an important distinction for OU-Tulsa, which has pledged to work actively toward making the campus and its ancillary spaces environmentally friendly for persons with dementia.
In 2017, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum introduced the initiative to citizens, and committed to achieving the Dementia Friendly designation for Tulsa. Bynum’s proclamation made Tulsa the first city in Oklahoma to become a nationally recognized member of the Dementia Friendly America Network. OU-Tulsa is the first university in the nation to embrace the movement at this level of involvement.
“OU-Tulsa’s participation is significant because it is so much more than a verbal or written pledge,” said Helen Farrar, Ph.D., assistant professor, OU College of Nursing. “The university has taken an action, implementing meaningful steps to change our culture to one of greater awareness and inclusion. It is important to note that everything is volunteer-driven.”
Among those substantial steps, OU-Tulsa will systematically expose all staff, students and employees across all departments to the concepts of the Dementia Friendly America movement. Further, a dementia friendly “champion” in each department will facilitate departmental training on an annual basis.
“The resources, assets or benefits are largely a matter of human potential to increase awareness,” Farrar said. “This occurs as people across the university actively engage in discussions about making OU-Tulsa a dementia-friendly environment, as well as in those personal conversations that take place in families, churches and civic activities.”