Nationally syndicated talk show host Leeza Gibbons recently returned to her native South Carolina in support of the state’s Purple Ribbon Task Force against Alzheimer’s disease. A native of Irmo, Gibbons’ lost her mother to the Alzheimer’s in May after a 10 year battle with the disease. A 1978 University of South Carolina Journalism School graduate, Gibbons says at this point in her career she has many projects of great passion and purpose that are guiding he professional choices now. “When we formed the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, we began to open what we call “Leeza’s Place” coast-to-coast.We now have 11 of them and are about to open in Bermuda, and in our great state of South Carolina we will be openingin Greenville very soon and I’m very excited about that. That really is my heart. It honors the promise I made to my mother to tell her story of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Gibbons says “Leeza’s Place” provides psycho-social non-residential support for caregivers of loved ones who suffer from a variety of ailments. “We give free services to our guests, whether its a mom with a child with autism, a husband whose wife has cancer, lots of kids whose parents have dementia; and we provide education, empowerment and energy to help them navigate through a new reality. We do this because we know that when there is a health crisis all of us get overwhelmed, all of us get frustrated, and very few of us have the presence of mind to make the right steps at the right time.” Gibbons says her organization helps primary caregivers in the decision making process involving their ailing loved one.
Gibbons says her labor of love is getting people from all walks of life to realize ther potential through her business venture Sheer Inspiration Coaching .com. “This is a relationship that people can have with a coach anonymously by phone and by e-mail and a lot of our caregivers have found that to be a really supportive service. We also coach people on body issues, their weight, their relationships, their parenting concerns because I believe that who your are today is not who you have to be tomorrow and that the greatest power that we have is the promise of transformation.”
Gibbons says one of the important gifts her mother imparted to her is the ability to confidently grasp and tackle life changes without fear or apprehension.
Gibbons says an important lesson that caregivers must grasp is the fact that they cannot give their best efforts toward the care of an ailing loved one unless they realize that they need help in taking care of themselves. “65 percent of the time the caregivers are declining and dying faster that the ones for whom they give care. it’s mostly women who are caregivers and many of them end up in finacial crises, we’re talking about living in poverty, going on government assistance because of the finacial burder of caregiving. It’s such huge issue.”
Gibbons says the 50 million caregivers in America must unite to create a stronger voice in the country for legislative action and cultural support in order to elevate the status of job especially as the overall population grows older.