Latest News

Urban Sensory Garden Innovation in Bringing Art to Life Chicago

Bringing Art to Life – Chicago, a program of art therapy, STEM education, multi-cultural intergenerational relationships, virtual reality immersion, life story appreciation and person-centered care started in 2016, has added a collaborative innovation: an urban sensory garden on the campus of Wesley Place memory care facility at Chicago Methodist Senior Services. 

Bringing Art to Life  – Chicago was made possible, in part, through a grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Read about the exciting new program here:

Bringing Art to Life Chicago Innovations

Bringing Art to Life – Chicago, a service – learning program for high school students in the Chicago, IL area, engages students and persons living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia in art and other expressive arts therapies, reminiscence and life story-sharing. Students form multicultural, intergenerational relationships with their dementia partners, and participate in comprehensive educational sessions about dementia, including appropriate methods of interacting with persons living with dementia, etc.

Bringing Art to Life – Chicago is a collaboration between Cognitive Dynamics Foundation and Chicago Methodist Senior Services, and has received support from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and High Socks for Hope Foundation. Medical students from Rush University, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois serve as facilitators of the program. Through the technology of Embodied Labs, students have virtual reality experiences living with dementia as part of their training.

During this summer’s session of Bringing Art to Life – Chicago, our high school student participants and their partners living with dementia are exploring the wonders of nature together as they plant and enjoy a sensory garden at Chicago Methodist Senior Services. The sensory garden complements the experience they are having together in art therapy, and the developing relationships help to combat stigma and build empathy.

The photos below were taken on 7-27-2019 at the sensory garden.

To learn more about Bringing Art to Life, check this link:

Cognitive Dynamics Releases Documentary Short, “Do You Know Me Now?”

Cognitive Dynamics is pleased to offer our award-winning 27:30 minute documentary short, Do You Know Me Now?, for free access on our Youtube Channel, CognitiveDynamics1, at the link below.

Do You Know Me Now? shows ways in which care partners can connect in the moment and have a mutually fulfilling relationship – one which discovers the person beneath the disease and builds upon remaining abilities and personality traits. Life is about relationships, and these relationships need not be lost due to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Do You Know Me Now? explores relationships and personhood, taking a novel look at what it means to be a person with dementia who is still very much alive and possessing those traits upon which relationships may be built, even late into the disease. The project highlights stories of people living with dementia and their loved ones who have found ways to connect — who have discovered joy, beauty and self-expression despite the losses.

Do You Know Me Now? reminds us that while cognitive ability diminishes, deep personhood lives on.

The film, directed and co-produced by Canadian film maker, Judith Murray, and edited and co-produced by American film maker, Brian Covert, features Ed and Naomi Feil (Founder of Validation Therapy), Rita and James Houston (Founder of Regent College), Joan and Cathie Borrie (Author of The Long Hello), and Lester and Ethelda Potts (Parents of Cognitive Dynamics Founder, Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN).

Building a Dementia-Friendly Community Through a Framework of Faith

Below is the transcription of a plenary address,”Building a Dementia-Friendly Community Through a Framework of Faith,” offered at the Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama on April 26, 2018 by Dr. James M. Houston, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College. The event was part of a faith-based dementia-friendly initiative of  Cognitive Dynamics Foundation in collaboration with the Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, funded by a grant from Dementia Friendly Alabama.

A video of the event can be found here:

For inquiries about the Dementia Friendly Initiative from Cognitive Dynamics, please contact project directors, Lynda Everman and Dr. Don Wendorf, at

Click here for a transcription of Dr. Houston’s address.

Dr. James M. Houston

Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel

Cognitive Dynamics Hosts Renowned Theologian

Cognitive Dynamics Foundation, in collaboration with Dementia Friendly Alabama and the Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition, is sponsoring a free lecture, “Building a Dementia Friendly Community Through a Framework of Faith,” featuring Dr. James M. Houston on Thursday, April 26, at 7 p.m. in Beeson Divinity School’s Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Houston, a pupil and friend of C. S. Lewis and a world-renowned scholar in Christian spiritual theology, was also the primary caregiver for his late wife, Rita, who had dementia. He brings this foundation and a most personal perspective into discussion of what the faith community can do to serve families impacted by dementia.

In addition, Dr. Houston will be speaking to a group of students and faculty at the University of Alabama’s Bryant Conference Center on April 27, 2018 at 1 pm on the topic, “Wisdom for the Journey.”

For more information, contact Lynda Everman 865-406-6178

Dr. James M. Houston


Cognitive Dynamics Begins Dementia Friendly Initiative

Cognitive Dynamics Foundation has partnered with Dementia Friendly Alabama and the Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition (a network of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s) to more effectively support and serve Alabama residents who are living with dementia and their care partners and families.

Supported by a grant from the Central Alabama Aging Consortium via its Dementia Friendly Alabama Initiative, projects leads Lynda Everman and Dr. Don Wendorf, internationally recognized dementia advocates, will provide resources and education to faith communities in the Birmingham/Tuscaloosa area.  During the Feb. 1 – July 31, 2018 grant period, visits will be arranged with staff of faith-based organizations to talk with them about what constitutes a dementia friendly faith-based community and leave them with tangible educational and caregiving resources and ideas to initiate or expand this ministry of compassionate dementia care.

The program is aimed at two underserved populations: 1) individuals with dementia and their care partners, who due to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and financial challenges presented by this disease, are no longer able to fully participate in their faith communities; and 2) faith communities who may not know how to recognize, interact with, and support their members with dementia and their care partners.

As part of the initiative, Cognitive Dynamics will host a Distinguished Lecture by renowned theologian James M. Houston, MA, BSc, DPhil in collaboration with Beeson Divinity School at Samford University on April 26, 2018 at 7 pm.  The topic of this lecture will be “Building a Dementia Friendly Community through a Framework of Faith.”

Cognitive Dynamics hopes to collaboratively raise awareness of the unique needs of this population in our community, help reduce the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and foster dementia friendly faith communities where those living with Alzheimer’s and their care partners feel respected, supported, and included, and where they can continue to participate in activities that are meaningful to them.

For more information about this program, please contact us at


The Importance of Dementia Compassionate Culture

Cognitive Dynamics Founder and President Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN was a recent guest of Mike Good (Together In This) for a podcast titled “The Importance of Dementia Compassionate Culture.”  In the podcast, Good and Potts discuss the story and art of Lester E. Potts, Jr., an Alabama saw miller who discovered a hidden talent for watercolor painting after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, and how this discovery led to new insights about the persistence of personhood and creativity in persons living with dementia.

The program created in memory of Lester Potts, Bringing Art to Life, was then discussed as a means to grow empathy and create a culture of compassion in dementia care through art therapy, storytelling, and the building of intergenerational relationships.  The program has two active locations, at the University of Alabama and in Chicago (Bringing Art to Life: Chicago), and is under development at other sites.

For more about Bringing Art to Life, check this link: Bringing Art to Life

#020: The Importance of a Dementia Compassionate Culture with Dr. Daniel Potts

Bringing Art to Life – Chicago to be Featured at Alzheimer’s Foundation Conference

Bringing Art to Life – Chicago (BATL-C), an innovative intergenerational expressive arts program for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, is being highlighted at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Concepts in Care Educational Conference in Chicago on October 19. The program is funded, in part, by a grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

A team from BATL-C will present the program from the standpoint of the student director (Angela Ray), neurologist and co-founder of the program (Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN), expressive arts therapist (Allison DeSantis, MA, LCPC) facility administrator (Ann Brennan), and a Chicago-based cognitive neurologist lead faculty (Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD).

BATL-C was piloted in 2016 in collaboration with Chicago Methodist Senior Services and Northside College Preparatory School, with support from High Socks for Hope Foundation.

For more information about BATL-C, please email us at


Bringing Art to Life Research Presented at IAGG 2017

The Bringing Art to Life (BATL) Research Team presented an abstract titled “The Effects of an Intergenerational Service Learning Experience on Ageist Attitudes” highlighting outcomes data from University of Alabama Honors students enrolled in UH 300: Art to Life at the 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in San Francisco on July 25, 2017.

UH 300: Art to Life is an Honors service learning class offered at the University of Alabama as part of our foundation’s Bringing Art to Life (BATL) program. Students learn about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, participate in the Virtual Dementia Tour, volunteer at an adult dementia daycare center, participate in mindfulness activities, develop an appreciation for the challenges of caregiving, and learn the tenets of person-centered care. In the experiential part of the course, students are paired with persons living with dementia, and participate in weekly art therapy sessions facilitated by an experienced art therapist. Students develop relationships with their participants, learn their life stories, and create a leather-bound life legacy book using, presenting this to their participants and their families in a celebratory dinner at the end of the semester.

A research team from the Alabama Research Institute on Aging and the UA Department of Psychology led by Keisha Ivey, MA and Rebecca Allen, PhD has been conducting research since 2015, and the current abstract addresses student data from pre-and post surveys measuring empathy and attitudes toward older adults, persons living with dementia and community service.

Compared with student controls from a psychology of aging course, BATL students exhibited statistically significant improvement in attitudes towards persons living with dementia and toward community service, as well as greater increases in empathy.

Research will be ongoing, and will involve analysis of the program’s impact on participating persons living with dementia and their caregivers.

For more information on Bringing Art to Life, read this Huffington Post article by Angel C. Duncan, MA, MFT-ATR, the Executive Arts Director for Cognitive Dynamics who helped to create the program:

From left to right, Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, Dr. Rebecca Allen, and Dr. Daniel C. Potts at the 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics

“Do You Know Me Now? Wins Silver Remi Award

Do You Know Me Now?, a short documentary about personhood and relationships in Alzheimer’s and other Dementias from Cognitive Dynamics, has won a Silver Remi Award from the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival.

The documentary highlights the lives and stories of two Canadian and two American persons with dementia (Rita Houston, Joan Borrie, Ed Feil and Lester E. Potts, Jr.) and their care partners, Dr. James Houston, Cathie Borrie, Naomi Feil and Ethelda Potts.

The documentary demonstrates how personhood persists despite dementia, and shows ways by which these care partners were able to tap into that personhood and build meaningful relationships and experience joy in the moment.

The documentary will eventually be made available for purchase and download.  Please watch future news posts from our website for further information.