Saint Simeon’s Senior Living Blog

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dementia-friendly tulsa

Every day at Saint Simeon’s, we offer memory care and support for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We were the first senior community in Tulsa to provide dementia care when our ground-breaking Memory Center opened in 1994. At that time, Alzheimer’s was a little-known term. Saint Simeon’s board of trustees conducted years of research, which resulted in a memory care unit that has a cutting-edge design, keeping people with dementia in mind in every detail, from lighting, to paint colors, to wide hallways. When staff at Saint Simeon’s heard about Tulsa becoming a Dementia Friendly city, it was something we naturally wanted to support.

Recognizing the Signs of Dementia

It’s likely that even if you don’t have a loved one with dementia, you still come across someone who has dementia every week, or you may recognize some of the signs of dementia in those around you. Maybe it’s the lady lost in the aisles at the grocery store. Maybe it’s the man in front of you in line at the bank. People with dementia can still be thriving members of society. They may just need a little help from time to time.

Tulsa: A Dementia Friendly City

Mayor GT Bynum announced on June 30 that Tulsa has become a Dementia Friendly city, in affiliation with Dementia Friendly America. The driving force behind Dementia Friendly America is to help foster communities that are more aware of people with dementia. The numbers related to dementia are staggering. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in the last five years of life, the costs of a person with dementia, on average, total more than $287,000. One in 10 people age 65 and older (has Alzheimer's dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates.

In addition, about one-third of people 85 and older have Alzheimer’s. In Tulsa in particular, about 6,000 Tulsans over age 65 are estimated to have dementia, based on 2015 U.S. Census demographics and 2017 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures. Their caregivers are estimated to number 18,000, enough people to fill the BOK Center. The Dementia Friendly Tulsa initiative chips away at the social isolation people with dementia experience. It encourages respectful inclusion, access and engagement across all community sectors. Overall, the goal of a Dementia Friendly City is kindness. If you recognize someone displaying the signs of dementia, such as seeing someone lost in the grocery store, don’t leave it up to the employees to help. If you have a neighbor who has dementia, what can you do to extend a helping hand?

To learn more about Dementia Friendly Tulsa, visit

For more information about dementia care at the Memory Center at Saint Simeon’s, please contact us today.

Thanks to all who participated in the Flat Simone competition! From January to June, we encouraged our Saint Simeon’s family to take a picture of Simone with them all over the world and upload the photos to social media using the hashtag #simonesaintsimeons. We had dozens of entries, and the competition was even featured by KOTV the News on 6.

And the winner of the competition is… drumroll, please….

Resident Louise Treadway, who went “flyfishing somewhere in midtown Tulsa” with Flat Simone! She is the winner of a $250 Southwest Airlines gift card!

Honorable mentions are:

  • Former Foundation employee Nicole Graham, who took Flat Simone with her on the set of Wheel of Fortune.
  • Resident Mary Zang’s daughter Cindy Woodward, who visited her son and daughter-in-law in Costa Rica and took Flat Simone with her.
  • Former Resident Alpha Clapp’s daughter Penny Jelinek, who took Flat Simone with her all over Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Mississippi, and Tennessee. “Simone made our trip to take Mom to her final resting place,” Penny said.
  • Staff member Kathy Hinkle’s daughter Kelly Hinkle took Flat Simone with her the furthest of any contestant: all the way to Saudi Arabia!
  • Staff member Denise Fack submitted the most Flat Simone entries. Flat Simone joined her on the job, at The Mercantile in Pawhuska (pictured here with Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond), and all over Claremore.
  • Staff member John Elliott took Flat Simone to Disney World.
  • Former Resident Wildfred Sherwin’s granddaughter Tori Wantland took Flat Simone all over Tulsa: to Coney Islander, to get her nails done, shopping, and more.
  • Flat Simone joined Trustee George Dotson and family at his birthday party.
  • Our “cutest” contestants were staff member Carolyn Blair’s daughter Audrey and her cousins, who took Flat Simone on vacation to Charleston.

Slideshow of Honorable Mentions

Saint Simeon’s Administrator, Chris Gruszeczki, recently went through a training in St. Louis to become a Dementia Capable Caregiver and a Dementia Capable Trainer. The training, put on by CPI Dementia Care Specialists, looks at dementia in regards to an individual’s ability to function.

The program evaluates a person’s BATF – best ability to function. One part of the course discusses the theory of retrogenesis – that people with Alzheimer’s tend to lose their functions in the same order they gained them as children. “They are still an adult, but they can’t necessarily function the way they used to,” Gruszeczki said.

The end result of the program is to develop more person-centered care. “It means that the Resident is the most important component of the care team,” Gruszeczki said.

Gruszeczki plans to provide the 8-hour training to all of Saint Simeon’s staff over time. She will also be offering an abbreviated version of the training to Saint Simeon’s family members. Stay tuned for more details!

This training will help Saint Simeon's become an even better memory care/Alzheimer's care community!

Saint Simeon's was delighted to sponsor Mayor G.T. Bynum's Dementia Friendly Symposium, held at Morton Comprehensive Health Services on April 5, 2017. 

Tulsa is in the process of becoming a dementia-friendly city, in partnership with Dementia Friendly America. The end-goal is that our community will be a place where all people can live, age and thrive.

Saint Simeon's strives to make our campus as dementia-friendly as possible -- from the lighting, the paint colors, and most importantly, the way our staff interacts kindly, compassionately and calmly with Residents.

You can become a Dementia Friend (someone who is aware of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's and willing and able to help people with dementia) by visiting

Friends of Saint Simeon’s enjoyed a splendid evening at The Polo Grill on Sunday, March 20, 2016 called “A Grand Evening,” a special fundraiser in which patrons donated a grand to go towards new beds in the Memory Center.

Chef Robert Merrifield, Trustee, Saint Simeon’s Foundation, and his team at The Polo Grill prepared a splendid meal for the 28 attendees. The eight-course menu centered on a Biblical-themed and included items such as “Loaves and Fishes” Salad with Citrus Cured Arctic Char, Tenderloin Medallions “Trinity” with steaks marinated in Mushroom Jus, Oscar, and Three Peppercorn Melange, and a Chocolate Gran Marnier “Sunday Sundae.” Each course was accompanied by a specially paired wine.

The evening opened with remarks from Will Farrior, President, Saint Simeon’s Foundation and a prayer by Father Bob Wickizer which focused on the idea that Saint Simeon’s is a place that allows adult children to truly “honor (their) father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2). In total, the event raised $35,100. George Dotson, Saint Simeon’s Home and Foundation Trustee, closed the evening with remarks thanking Robert and Donna Merrifield and announcing that as a thank you, Saint Simeon’s will be dedicating a willow tree on their behalf.

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