Leeza Gibbons, Empowering Caregivers and Honor Those Suffering From Memory Disorders

Today’s Grands continue to make a major difference in their communities and families long after they’ve retired. There’s a reason why the Boomer generation is so influential in society—and it’s not just their sheer numbers. Grands are truly super-parents, navigating generation gaps with ease—one minute bouncing a grandchild on their knee, the next helping their sons and daughters strike out on their own, and the next caring for and sheltering their own parents in their golden years.

“Grand Folks” addresses the issues facing this generation’s multitasking grands and spotlights outstanding grands making a difference. If you know about some grand folks you’d like to see featured here, write to us at grandfolks@grandmagazine.com.

Exposing your private life to the public eye can be daunting for anyone, even someone as well known as television star and radio personality Leeza Gibbons. But that is precisely what Gibbons did in order to spur awareness of memory disorders and  to cast a positive light on the millions of caregive quietly going about the business of tending to others.

“We struggle with ways to tell our stories and to honor caregivers,” says Gibbons, founder of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and one of the driving forces behind The State Farm Memory Wall Tour—a tour honoring caregivers and those diagnosed with memory disorders.

“We realized when my family went through the struggles we did that if it’s happening to us, it’s happening to so many families across the country, and what can we do? Then my mother said, ‘Okay, honey, you’re a storyteller. Go tell the story.’”

So she decided to form the Liza Gibbons Memory Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating and empowering caregivers, families and those diagnosed with memory disorders. Then she created an environment that sparked awareness of memory disorders and offered resources and caring support for caregivers—Leeza’s Place.

Opening across the country, Leeza’s Place provides “a safe, supportive, intimate setting for families  where they can take a breath, gather their strength and prepare with support for this difficult journey,” says Gibbons. The unique non-profit organization allows visitors to choose from an array of activities and support groups.

“Caregivers give so much that it’s not uncommon for them to forget to care for themselves,” something Gibbons confesses happened to her. “I wasn’t getting enough sleep, taking time for a breather, stepping away long enough to calm myself, and I didn’t look after myself nutritionally.”

SHE BECAME INVOLVED with State Farm’s plan to develop a traveling wall that would tour the country and let families, friends and loved ones post personal stories and notes of gratitude to caregivers. “The wall gives us a powerful visual representation of all the many stories that are out there and creates a sense of community and honor among the caregivers,” said Gibbons.

For more information on The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, Leeza’s Place or The State Farm Memory Wall Tour, please visit www.leezasplace.org or www.sfmemorywall.com. ■

Precious memories

As a tribute to her mom, Leeza does all she can to empower caregivers and honor those suffering from memory disorders.

Originally Published on GRAND Magazine in July-August 2006 Issue

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