CARING FOR CAREGIVERS

For the millions of Americans who look after loved ones, the toll on their own health can be devastating. TV talk show host Leeza Gibbons has experienced this difficult reality firsthand and now she’s counseling others on how to cope.

Aired on November 13, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL CARE GIVERS MONTH AND IN THE U.S.

ALONE, MORE THAN 65 MILLION PEOPLE PROVIDE CARE FOR CHRONICALLY ILL, DISABLED OR AGEING FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIENDS DURING ANY GIVEN YEAR.

OF COURSE WATCHING YOUR LOVED ONE AGE CAN BE HARD AND HELPING CARE FOR THEM CAN BE EVEN HARDER WITH CARE GIVERS FACING INCREDIBLE PRESSURE TO LOOK AFTER THEIR LOVED ONES, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME MAINTAINING THEIR OWN DAY-TO-DAY LIFE.

TV HOST AND ADVOCATE LEEZA GIBBONS UNDERSTANDS THE STRUGGLE AFTER TAKING CARE OF HER OWN MOTHER DURING HER FIGHT WITH ALZHEIMER'S AND AFTER EXPERIENCING HER FATHER'S COLLAPSE IN HIS HOME DUE TO A HEART ATTACK.

THIS IS ONLY EMPOWERED HER TO HELP OTHER CARE GIVERS COPE WITH THE UNIQUE ROLE OF LOOKING OUT FIR THEIR LOVED ONES WITH HER CHARITY, LEEZA'S CARE CONNECTION WHICH SHE OPENED IN HER HOMETOWN USING MONEY SHE RAISED ON PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER PROGRAM, CELEBRITY APPRENTICE.

LEEZA GIBBONS JOINS US TO TALK ABOUT HER ORGANIZATION AND TO SHARE HER ADVICE AND SUPPORT FOR OTHER CARE GIVERS AROUND THE COUNTRY.

LEEZA, WELCOME.

THANK YOU, GOOD TO BE HERE.

GIVEN THAT YOU HAVE HAD THIS FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE OF BEING A CARE GIVER, IN YOUR TIME, WHAT WERE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT CAME UP THAT YOU NOTICED ISSUES THAT PERHAPS WEREN'T BEING ADDRESSED OR ACKNOWLEDGED IN THE GENERAL ATMOSPHERE.

FIRST OF ALL, I THINK WE DON'T EVEN RECOGNIZE CARE GIVERS, THE FAMILY MEMBERS THAT SHOW UP EVERY DAY, LIKE FIRST RESPONDERS, THERE'S A CRISIS, EVERYBODY IS BAILING, AND THEY'RE RUNNING TOWARDS THE EMERGENCY TO TRY AND FIX IT, SO I THINK THAT JUST ADJUSTING TO A NEW NORMAL IS HARD BECAUSE THAT'S CHANGE, AND, YOU KNOW, WE ALL ARE KIND OF -- HAVE A TENDENCY TO RESIST CHANGE, BUT WITH CARE GIVERS AS WITH ANYONE WHO IS SUCCESSFUL AT ANYTHING, YOU DON'T FEAR THE CHANGE, YOU LEARN HOW TO CHANGE THE FEAR, AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL CARE GIVING EXPERIENCE, I THINK.

OKAY.

THAT IS REALLY POWERFUL.

BECAUSE THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE, PEOPLE WHO ARE ON OUR STAFF WITH 13, EVEN IN MY OWN PERSONAL LIFE, CARING FOR A CHRONICALLY ILL LOVED ONE CAN BE INCREDIBLY EMOTIONALLY TAXING.

IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION HELPS PEOPLE DEAL WITH AND PROCESS?

WE DO.

BECAUSE YOU EMPTY OUT, YOU KNOW, AS CARE GIVERS WE'RE NURTURERS, 2/3 OF US ARE WOMEN.

I THINK THIS IS THE WOMEN'S ISSUE OF OUR TIME, AND SO, YOU KNOW, WE GIVE AND GIVE AND GIVE, AND THAT'S OUR HONOR AND OUR JOY TO BE ABLE TO OFFER THAT, BUT THAT OFTEN MEANS WE'RE DEPLETING AND FAMILIES ARE UNRAVELING, EMOTIONALLY AS YOU SAY, FINANCIALLY, SPIRITUALLY, PHYSICALLY, THEY'RE JUST ERODING, ERODING, ERODING, SO OUR MANTRA DURING FAMILY CARE GIVER MONTH IS TAKE CARE TO GIVE CARE.

FOR SOMEBODY WHO MIGHT BE HEARING THIS OR SEEING THIS AND SAYING OKAY, I HAVE A FAMILY MEMBER, THEY NEED MY HELP.

I'M ALSO A MOM OR I HAVE A FULL-TIME JOB, AND I JUST, I DON'T EVEN SEE HOW I COULD BEGIN TO POSSIBLY BALANCE ALL OF THIS.

THERE'S NO BALANCE.

BALANCE IN THIS SCENARIO IS BOGUS.

WE HAVE TO JUST FORGET IT, AND RESET TO SOMETHING THAT MAKES SENSE BECAUSE THAT'S GOING TO GO INTO OUR HEAD AND BE THIS OVERWHELMING, OH, MY GOSH.

IS THIS A MATTER OF PRIORITIZING, THEN?

I THINK IT'S A MATTER OF HAVING A PLAN, RECOGNIZING THAT YOU CANNOT WALK THIS PATH ALONE, AND THE TENDENCY IS TO KIND OF ISOLATE, AND WE THINK -- WE GET CAUGHT IN THAT TRAP OF OUGHT TO, COULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE, I OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS, I'M HIS DAUGHTER.

I SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE PATIENT.

I'M HIS WIFE.

WHATEVER IT IS, THOSE ARE TRAPS.

AND SO THERE'S GUILT THAT'S INSTRUCTIVE, AND THERE'S GUILT THAT YOU HAVE TO GET RID OF BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO TRIP YOU UP.

EVERY CARE GIVER HAS GUILT.

IF YOU'RE FEELING TWINGES OF GUILT BECAUSE YOU LOST YOUR TEMPER, THAT'S INSTRUCTIVE BECAUSE THAT SAYS TO YOU, I NEED TO DEVELOP MORE SKILLS.

I NEED TO TAKE A BREAK.

I NEED TO GET MORE SLEEP.

THAT'S WHAT I CALL THE GOOD GUILT.

THE OTHER GUILT IS JUST NOT HELPFUL ON YOUR JOURNEY AND IT WILL BRING YOU DOWN.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER TIPS YOU CAN GIVE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THIS.

I ALWAYS SAY THERE ARE SOME F WORDS THAT ARE HELPFUL DURING THIS JOURNEY, AND ONE OF THEM IS FLEXIBILITY.

THE OTHER IS FORGIVENESS.

YOU KNOW, FORGIVE YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU CAN'T FIX IT.

YOU CAN'T ALWAYS MAKE IT BETTER.

YOU WILL MESS UP.

FORGIVE YOUR LOVED ONES FOR HAVING THE AUDACITY TO GET SICK.

YOU KNOW, LIKE, OUR PARENTS, WE THINK THEY'RE GOING TO BE ROCK SOLID, YOU KNOW, THAT'S WHO THEY REPRESENT TO US.

AND OUR HEROES FOREVER GL.

AND OUR HEROES FOREVER.

GIVEN THE FACT THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO CREATE THIS AMAZING ORGANIZATION ON MONEY THAT YOU WON ON CELEBRITY APPRENTICE, I'M WONDERING, WHAT WAS REQUYOUR FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE.

MUCH DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT LIVING ON A REALITY SHOW.

I KNEW DONALD TRUMP'S BOARD ROOM WHICH IS A PLACE ON THAT SHOW THAT IS KNOWN FOR BEING SO FEROCIOUS IT, YOU KNOW, BRINGS THE TOUGHEST GUYS AND MEANEST GIRLS TO TEARS AND TANTRUMS.

FOR ME IT WAS A PLACE TO REALLY PUT THE FOCUS ON MY BURNING DESIRE, AND I THINK THAT'S HOW I WON.

YOU KNOW, REALLY EASY TO DISMISS, OH, SHE'S NOT GOING TO GET VERY FAR.

SHE'S TOO NICE.

OR WHATEVER.

BUT NEVER UNDERESTIMATE SOMEBODY WHO REALLY HAS A BURNING DESIRE, AND I WANTED TO HONOR MY MOTHER'S JOURNEY WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE.

I WANTED TO RECOGNIZE CARE GIVING FAMILIES AND THAT'S WHAT GOT ME TO THE END.

AND THEN WHEN TRUMP ANNOUNCED TO ME, IT WAS LIKE, WELL, WHOEVER GETS INTO THAT OFFICE IS DEALING WITH UNPRECEDENTED NUMBERS OF A GROWING AND AGEING POPULATION LIKE WE HAVE NEVER SEEN.

WE HAVE EVEN GOT 10,000 BOOMERS TURNING 65 EVERY DAY.

THIS IS, YOU KNOW, LOOKING AT CARE GIVING, LOOKING AT THE INCREASE OF CHRONIC ILLNESS AND DISEASE, THAT'S A VERY REAL, I HOPE PRIORITY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP.

I LIKE TO SUPPORT CARE GIVERS BY HAVING THEM LOOK AT WHAT'S AVAILABLE.

AND I'LL TELL YOU THERE'S A LOT OF TECHNOLOGY OUT THERE NOW THAT IS OFFERING TREMENDOUS PEACE OF MIND AND TREMENDOUS SAFETY.

MY DAD HAD A HEART ATTACK, AS YOU SAID, AND HE, AFTER MY MOM DIED, LIVES ALONE.

SO I WAS WORRIED OUT OF MY MIND ABOUT MY DAD, WHAT IF HE FELL, NUMBER ONE PROBLEM.

I LIVE THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY, AND SO I REALLY KIND OF GUILTED HIM INTO GETTING A MEDICAL ALERT DEVICE.

BECAUSE HE DIDN'T WANT IT.

OF COURSE NOT.

RIGHT.

RESISTANT, PROUD.

AND I DON'T NEED A BABYSITTER.

THAT'S IT.

THAT'S IT.

YES.

NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME.

AND SO I COULD RECOGNIZE THAT WAS HIS VULNERABILITY AND HIS FEAR.

SO I SAID, BUT DADDY, IT'S FOR ME, AND IT REALLY WAS, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE I WORRY AND I KNOW YOU DON'T WANT ME TO BE WORRIED.

SURE ENOUGH, HE HAD A HEART ATTACK, HAD HE NOT BEEN WEARING HIS PHILLIP'S LIFELINE, WE WOULDN'T HAVE MY DAD.

I THINK FOR ME AT LEAST THE BIG TAKE AWAY IS BUILD A SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY IF YOU'RE A CARE GIVER.

THAT'S IT.

AND WE WAIT A WHILE TO DO THAT.

WE'RE RESISTANT TO THAT BUT IT IS GETTING BETTER SO DURING THIS MONTH, IF THERE ARE PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT I KNOW ARE CARING FOR SOMEONE TO SAY I KNOW IT'S HARD WHAT YOU'RE DOING, AND YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT GOES A LONG WAY.

DOESN'T IT.

I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO JOIN US.

I REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

MY PLEASURE.

AND THIS WAS SOME REALLY HEALING INFORMATION AND TIPS THAT I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE CAN USE NOW OR WILL BE ABLE TO USE IN THE FUTURE.

AND IF YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION, A LOT OF SUPPORTIVE INFORMATION AND FACTS ARE THERE, HOW TO HELP YOU NAVIGATE THROUGH THE TECHNOLOGY PIECE AT PHILLIPS LIFELINE.

EXCELLENT.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LEEZA GIBBON'S ORGANIZATION, LEEZA EASE CARE CONNECTION AND HER TIPS FOR CARE GIVERS, VISIT OUR WEB SITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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