Leeza Gibbons is best known as the anchor of “Entertainment Tonight” – and more recently as co-host of “America Now,” but she is also an advocate for Alzheimer’s disease – a role she holds close to her heart.
After Gibbons’ mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Gibbons spent more than a decade taking care of her, while raising her own family and focusing on her career. She experienced firsthand the difficulties of the disease – not just for the patient, but for the patient’s family and loved ones.
"We were under attack, like an assault of all your senses - this tsunami of pain," Gibbons said of how her family felt when the diagnosis was handed down. "We just didn't want to see that our bright, beautiful mom was disappearing."
That’s why she created the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and Leeza’s Place, which provide support for caregivers. In 2009, Gibbons wrote “Take Your Oxygen First,” a book that tackles the challenges of caring for Alzheimer’s patients.
“So many families know how lonely this disease is,” Gibbons said. “This disease won’t wait for you to get ready. I wish I had been able to see that this is an endurance race. You’ve got to find support, get a team.”
On Tuesday, September 20 Gibbons hosted Conversations in Caregiving, a live webcast that featured a question and answer session with an expert doctor, elder law attorney and social worker. To learn more about this webcast log onto www.AlzheimersDisease.com.
Gibbons said she became an advocate for Alzheimer’s disease because her mother asked her to.
“She said, ‘You are a storyteller, this is your story, and I want you to make it count,’” Gibbons said. “So I promised her I would.”
Gibbons described Leeza’s Place as an “oasis” for caregivers.
“If you are in a situation where you say, ‘I’m lost, I’m frustrated, I’m resentful,’ if you have another caregiver whose been there, its validation and credibility makes all the difference.”
Wednesday, September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day.