“We are committed to providing a positive air travel experience for all passengers who come through TUL. That includes those with visible and non-visible disabilities, such as dementia. We hope to eliminate barriers that create stress, anxiety, frustration, and even fear. DFTulsa is providing us a foundation that we’ll continue to build upon.”
Dementia Friendly Tulsa is a grassroot initiative launched by Mayor G.T. Bynum in April 2017. The volunteer-driven program is free to businesses and organizations. It focuses on enhancing the city’s inclusion and meaningful engagement of those with cognitive decline, as well as their caregivers. DFTulsa is a member of the Dementia Friendly America Network founded in 2015.
“Making Tulsa a Dementia Friendly City was one of the first initiatives we launched when I became mayor, and I am excited to see this program expanding to Tulsa International Airport. I want to thank the airport staff for working to eliminate the social stigma around memory loss while empowering both patients and caregivers to engage safely in our community for as long as possible.”
Effective this week, TUL employees will begin participating in the DFTulsa program and online resources. Additionally, TUL’s dementia-friendly strategy includes:
The Dementia Friendly Tulsa program also complements screening information distributed nationwide in October 2020 to TSA airport agents, including those at TUL. That effort was the result of ongoing work by the Dementia-Friendly Airport Working Group based in Roseville, Minnesota.
In August 2016, London’s Heathrow Airport announced its launch of programs to become the world’s first dementia-friendly airport. Brisbane Airport quickly followed and was named Australia’s first dementia-friendly airport in June 2017.
“Currently, 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia,and Alzheimer’s is the most common type. The early-to-middle stages of the disease can last a decade or more, so many people are able to continue enjoying an active social life, including traveling, for multiple years.”
In addition to the Sunflower Lanyard program, TUL offers a Wings for Autism social story booklet online, family-care designated restrooms, a TSA Cares dedicated helpline, wheelchairs available free of charge, relief areas for service animals, reserved accessible parking, assistance from Airport Ambassadors, and the Welcome Waggin’ airport therapy dog program.
“This is a wonderful achievement by Tulsa International Airport and Dementia Friendly Tulsa. We hope this is the beginning of similar efforts by many U.S. airports so air travel can be enjoyed much longer by those living with dementia and their care partners.”
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