Leeza Gibbons: The Heart Of A Princess
When Leeza Gibbons told me during our interview that she wanted to be the voice of an animated Princess in a Disney movie, someday, and that I should do it with her, I had to laugh. “Why not,” I responded, thinking to myself. To imagine Leeza Gibbons playing that role is easy. She’s gorgeous, both inside and out, and everybody loves her. To imagine my being at her side in an equal part….big question mark, although her sincerity was enormously appreciated as was her desire to remain chatting with me for much longer than our originally scheduled time. Who knew she was such a fan?
The feeling is mutual, I must say. Leeza Gibbons vast, multifaceted talent and gracious personality have been the hallmark of her enormously successful media-entertainment career and overall longevity. Her recent ‘win’ of Celebrity Apprentice stands to remind us of this as does the $714,000 she raised, as a result, for her charity Leeza's Care Connection. They have also been two of the many reasons Leeza has been so open in discussing her life with aging-ailing parents. In coping with and sharing her own challenges, Leeza hopes to help others deal with theirs.
Now, as a spokesperson for Senior Helpers, Leeza is expanding the discussion and understanding around the expectations, needs, and realities of caring for aging-ailing parents in a whole new way...a way she stands by, fervently, because they stood by her and her family during some of their darkest hours. It’s a match made ‘in heaven’ before anyone is ready to get there and you can read all about in Leeza’s interview below.
What is your personal mantra?
Breath. Believe. Receive.
How did you hear about Senior Helpers?
My passion path and professional path intertwined following my father having a heart attack. I hired a caregiver from Senior Helpers. She became the secret weapon to my father’s recovery and I became a big believer in them.
What impressed you most with this organization, giving you reason to climb on board?
Not only are they one of the largest providers of in-home caregiving but they provide “peace-of-mind” visits -- customizing that very intimate relationship between caregiver and patient.
What does Senior Helpers provide in which you wished you had, had at the beginning of coping with aging and ailing parents?
It is really tough on the family members of aging-ailing parents, specifically because of the amount of stress we are coping with on a daily basis. Finding the proper caregiver provides the distant family members/caregivers a means of comfort and space to breath. In addition, they help to educate you, which makes it easier to better understand and deal with what is happening. One of the challenges I had was to accept the fact that I was not “failing” my father because I could not care for him without outside help. This was really tough for me but they helped to make sense of it all.
Are you paid for your participation and if so, do you donate a percentage of your compensation to Leeza’s Care Connection (LCC)?
My expenses and participation is paid and yes, it goes back.
You have been coping with Alzheimer’s and aging parents for some time now. What is the secret to your smile during these tough times?
It is deeply ingrained in my emotional DNA to be optimistic. I am versed in resilience. I was raised to be grounded in gratitude, which gives me strength to fight. I try to remember to “focus on what’s left and not what’s lost”.
What’s been the biggest shock in coping with aging parents and how has that architected your current and future goals?
The premium placed on sexuality and sex at the later stages of life. “Old” is always 15-20 years ahead of us in our heads, and that includes with regards to this realm as well.
How has your advocacy for Senior Helpers helped you cope with the realization that, you too, will one day be old and need help?
I’m an optimist but also fairly pragmatic. Beyond being more aware of the realities, needs and expectations of aging seniors, myself, I’m now better able to arm others with this same knowledge, including those dealing with seniors with Dementia and Alzheimers, respectively.
You’ve covered much territory in your career. What’s been the highlight so far and what is something you would like to do that you haven’t done yet outside your mainstream?
Being a “storyteller”. My mother convinced me to become a storyteller at age six -- the result of my desire to enter a talent competition remiss of any talent at all, except one...storytelling.
With regards to something that I would like to do ‘outside of my mainstream’...I’d either like to lead an all-female construction company or become the voice of an animated character.
When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
As someone who worked hard and cared more.
There is no doubt that watching parents age is extremely difficult. Add to that the suddenness of the potential ‘role reversal’ between parent and child and you have yourself the makings of an incredibly overwhelming and stressful situation to bear. This is why organizations like Senior Helpers are critical to our lives and why voices like Leeza Gibbons can do so much to educate, inform, and example. Her credibility is without question as is her own humanness and concern for aging-ailing parents. She’s the perfect spokesperson for such a wonderful organization and cause. Suffice-it-to-say, whether or not Disney gives her a crown, she’s already earned one in my book.
Many thanks to Leeza Gibbons and Caprio Media Design for making this interview possible