By Patty Schaller
When Miriam’s husband Tom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, along with being his wife and best friend, she also became his caregiver. The couple had always been each other’s support, so caring for Tom was the natural thing to do and Miriam was glad to do it.
But as time went on, Miriam realized that she needed to learn how to deal with her new role, her feelings, and the demands that caregiving often brings. She found the support, connection, and understanding she needed at Leeza’s Care Connection, at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. The Center is a community gathering place where family caregivers come together to learn, get answers to questions, and Summon Their Strength for their caregiving journey.
“I don’t really know what I would do if I didn’t have them,” Miriam says. “It’s such a caring atmosphere and the leadership directs things so well. I’m grateful that they’re here.”
Tucked into a cozy area at St. Joseph’s, Leeza’s Care Connection provides support groups, resource referrals, health and wellness programs, and caregiving workshops. Their programs are designed to empower caregivers on how to take care of themselves, reduce stress, communicate more effectively, and cope with many emotions. Having volunteers to interact with Tom allowed Miriam to get the help she needed.
The program also reaches out to the Spanish-speaking community. “There is a huge need in educating the Latino community about Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and memory loss. We connect them to community resources and to other caregivers,” Program and Outreach Assistant Director Nadia Cantuña said.
Leeza’s Care Connection is the signature program of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation who, in partnership with Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, opened this oasis for caregivers in July 2012 after moving from Sherman Oaks. Talk show host, New York Times best-selling author, and entrepreneur Leeza Gibbons established her foundation as a promise to her mother, who had Alzheimer’s, to “tell her story and make it count.”
Sales of Leeza Gibbons’ book, Take 2, Your Guide to Creating Happy Endings and New Beginnings, will continue to help fund free support programs for caregivers and their families.
Take 2 is about fearlessly starting over at any stage of life. “With this book about starting over, I honor all of those who were sucked into their next act without the luxury of choosing it. But care-givers, most of all, can find the value and the promise of creating a fresh start,” Gibbons says. And she knows, because she did it herself.
Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center is located at 501 S. Buena Vista St. in Burbank. For more information, please call 1-888-432-5464 [HEALING].