Leeza’s Place is a program of The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, which Leeza founded after her mother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease.
I promised my mother I would tell her story and make it count. I began to fulfill that promise by opening what we call Leeza’s Place, our resource centers which serve as an oasis for caregivers and those newly diagnosed with any memory disorder. Leeza’s Place is like a warm embrace, a hug of support and an exhale of hope. Everything that I have done prior to this moment in my career and personal life has led me beautifully here. I’m very involved in the growth and development of Leeza’s Place and very proud to carry on my mother’s legacy of empowerment.
I believe most caregivers are searching for a place to belong. It’s a very lonely and depleting existence and yet it can be very nourishing and rewarding. At Leeza’s Place we always encourage caregivers to “take your oxygen first”. Meaning if the caregivers are not healthy, mentally well-balanced and spiritually sound, then those for whom we care will suffer. We know that up to 70% of the time, caregivers falter and fail before those for whom they care. It is essential that we offer comfort and care for the caregiver.
At Leeza’s Place we offer what we call education, empowerment & energy. Most of our guests arrive at our door in desperate need of education. Nine times out of ten, they don’t know what they don’t know. One of the best resources I have found is our Family Caregivers Guide, which is a complete comprehensive video overview from professional caregivers and family providers about the caregiving experience. Many people watch it and burst into tears at the sheer power of knowing someone understands them. It’s one of the resources available at Leeza’s Place to help families connect the dots within their communities.
Our care advocates are always available to offer assistance whether it’s getting a diagnosis, finding a support group, accessing respite and recreation or just sharing a cup of coffee and an open heart. When we have to let go of anyone it’s a painful process. But watching someone slowly disappear behind the veil of Alzheimer’s disease is unbearably cruel. I find most caregivers fight the feeling of helplessness and battle extreme guilt.
We have many innovative programs at Leeza’s Place. Most families find our scrapbooking program to be very helpful. Preserving memories, of course, can take a number of forms. The idea is simply to celebrate a life, pass on a legacy, cherish traditions and keep memories alive. For caregivers, it’s an activity to do with loved ones who have a memory disorder that respects their dignity and adds value to both parties. Someone whose memory is failing might not be able to remember yesterday, but I bet you can tie that same person to their past glory (a track and field event from high school, an honor from the military, a dance at a wedding) and the smile and tears of joy will come easily. Just the very act of elevating a photo, a memento, a keepsake and committing it to a scrapbook is very soothing. It’s a tangible reminder that our life and our time here matters.Last Modified May 25, 2009 @ 12:09 pm