Leeza Gibbons wants a “Leeza's Place” in every county in the United States.
“Leeza's Place” is the name of the community centers that Gibbons has established for caregivers and those recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and other diseases that cause memory disorders (such as Parkinson's disease, brain traumas and stroke).
She realized the need for the centers when she noticed that her mother seemed to improve when doctors diagnosed her condition.
“I promised my mother I would use her Alzheimer's diagnosis to educate and inspire others. We're doing that through our centers — intimate settings in cities across the country where the newly diagnosed with any memory disorder and their caregivers can get education, empowerment and energy free of charge, to help them prepare for the journey ahead.”
There are Leeza's Places in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Melbourne, Fla., and Joliet, Ill. Centers in Los Angeles, Calif., Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Fla., will open next year.
The centers aim to erase any stigma associated with these diseases; encourage screening to determine if memory problems are due to Alzheimer's disease or other conditions, such as vitamin or thyroid deficiencies; and teach patients and caregivers how to deal with the everyday challenges of living with a memory disorder.
The centers are usually affiliated with a hospital, where tests can be conducted.
In addition, the Leeza's Place Web site offers useful services, such as the opportunity to create a “Life Ledger,” which is a secure Internet page where families can store important legal information, such as advance directives, so family members can stipulate their desire regarding medical care if a time comes when they can no longer express them. Other activities include scrapbooking and Leeza's Memory Television, in which participants write scripts and create videos of their family history. “It can help us remember their stories,” Gibbons said.
To learn more about the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and the Leeza's Place centers, call (888) OK-LEEZA (555-3392) or click on www.memoryfoundation.org or www.leezasplace.org