You’ve been with Hebrew SeniorLife for several years. Can you share a little about your background and your career at HSL?
I came to Boston from Spain on a Fulbright scholarship to do a masters-level viola performance degree at New England Conservatory. In Boston, I discovered the incredible world of music therapy and the field fascinated me. I found that the combination of science and art was a calling and a home for me in a way I never experienced as a performer or teacher. I then earned a second master’s degree in expressive art therapy at Lesley University and became a licensed mental health counselor.
When Alzheimer’s disease becomes part of a marriage, or a family, caregivers can usually find resources to support the member facing memory loss or to support the family caregiver seeking peer connections and information. Yet, until the last few years, there wasn’t much designed to support the evolving spousal or parent/child relationship itself. All that changed with the advent of the “Memory Café” concept in the Netherlands, a unique model of social programming designed as a welcoming place for caregivers and their loved ones with memory loss to relax together in a stigma-free environment that offers both socialization and support.
Matthew Hollingshead recently joined Hebrew SeniorLife as the executive director of Assisted Living and Memory Care at NewBridge on the Charles. His energetic, resident-centric approach and skill in leading large teams is already making a difference in the lives of our residents. I recently spoke to Matt about the rewards and challenges of his work.
Taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease and/or a related dementia can be as exhausting as it is meaningful. Both physically and emotionally, caregiving takes a toll that we can all appreciate. Occasional breaks – whether for a few hours, a day, or a week or more – are important in order to recharge. Family caregivers need rest and support in order to continue to provide the best possible care to loved ones.
There are many supports available for family caregivers: