Dementia Dialogue

Arts and Dementia Series- Healing through the arts: The journeys of one woman and a son and his father

March 8, 2022

Lisa Loiselle, explores the importance of the arts in the context of dementia from the lens of a personal advocate,  Rev. Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel and a care partner, Daniel Potts.

Cynthia started having memory problems at the age of 49. She did not consider herself an artist until after her diagnosis and now she is a published author, artist, and fierce Alzheimer’s advocate. Cynthia talks about how she got started in the arts and how that work has turned into her published book, “UnMasking Alzheimer’s”, a compendium of stores and photos of 36 masks that she created as an artist.

Daniel C. Potts, is a neurologist, author, educator, and champion of those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and their care partners. Inspired by his father’s transformation from a blue-collar worker to a watercolor artist after his dementia diagnosis through person-centered care and the expressive arts. Dr. Potts has sought to make these therapies more widely available through his foundation, Cognitive Dynamics. Danny also speaks about a dark time in his life after his father’s diagnosis when, as a neurologist, he felt unable to help his parents. Seeing his father’s artwork, however, sparked something in him and he began writing poetry to help him deal with his role as a care partner. Dr. Potts shares one of his poems during this podcast

 

Biographies:

 

Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN is a neurologist, author, educator, and champion of those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and their care partners. Selected by the American Academy of Neurology as the 2008 Donald M. Palatucci Advocate of the Year, he also has been designated an Architect of Change by Maria Shriver. In 2016, he was chosen by the University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association as a recipient of the Martha Myers Role Model Award, which honors physician alumni whose lives epitomize the ideal of service to their communities. Along with his wife, Ellen W. Potts, MBA, he authored A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver, which is recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Academy of Neurology, and Maria Shriver. Inspired by his father’s transformation from saw miller to the watercolor artist in the throes of dementia through person-centered care and the expressive arts, Dr. Potts seeks to make these therapies more widely available through his foundation, Cognitive Dynamics. Additionally, he is passionate about promoting self-preservation and dignity for all persons with cognitive impairment. He practices neurology at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.

 

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel of Elmira served in parish ministry for 15 years prior to her diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. She received her BS from Rutgers College, her MDiv from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and her DMin from McCormick Theological Seminary.   Cynthia is a fierce Alzheimer’s advocate and has become a voice for those living with dementia- locally, nationally, and internationally.  She was recently appointed to serve a 4-year term on the 18 members, National Advisory Council on Aging representing the 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.   Cynthia is passionate about Alzheimer’s research and is in her 11th year of the ADNI study.  She is serving on the Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) Advisory Board and is the co-chair of the National Academies of Sciences Alzheimer’s Decadal Survey Advisory Panel. She has participated in three NIH Research Summits, the most recent in July 2020. Cynthia sings in the band ”Country Magic” and in 2016, was inducted into the NY State Country Music Hall of Honor.  A lifelong learner, Cynthia enrolled at Elmira College in 2011 and has taken 40 classes so far. Cynthia is an artist and an author.  Her book, “UnMasking Alzheimer’s” is a compendium of stories and photos of the 36 masks that she created.  In 2019, ten of her Alzheimer’s masks were displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Stockholm during the 2019 Dementia X Conference.  Cynthia loves to travel, kayak, to swim and enjoys serving as a substitute preacher. Her mantra?  “Don’t focus on what you can’t do.  Focus on how you can still make a difference.” 

 

Resources:

Cognitive Dynamics Foundation: https://www.cognitivedynamics.org

Daniel and Cynthis singing in a tornado shelter: https://www.facebook.com/don.wendorf.9/videos/1844816778968134/?d=n

The poem Danny read on the podcast set to music: https://youtu.be/_4KrNQgjc_s

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