Public leadership in neurology award honors Leeza Gibbons for Alzheimer's awareness efforts

04/06/05

MIAMI BEACH - Television news journalist and radio personality Leeza Gibbons knows how Alzheimer's disease can impact a family. The memory disorder afflicted her grandmother, and her mother lives with it now. Gibbons' strides in spreading awareness about Alzheimer's disease will be honored with the 2005 Public Leadership in Neurology Award during the American Academy of Neurology's 57th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach. It is the world's largest annual gathering of neurologists.

Gibbons will talk about her efforts in the keynote speech at the meeting's awards luncheon, held from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. in the Miami Beach Convention Center on Wednesday, April 13.

"I am extremely honored to receive this prestigious award which will allow me to broaden the message of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation. So many families and their caregivers know the frustration and confusion of neurological disorders," Gibbons said. "The work of the American Academy of Neurology is essential. I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's disease, and I lose a little more of my mom to this thief of memories everyday. Because of that, I am deeply invested in the American Academy of Neurology's powerful work."

Her advocacy has aimed to take the shame and stigma out of memory disorders. She began by working with various Alzheimer's-related nonprofits and visiting Capitol Hill. In addition to producing episodes about Alzheimer's and dementia on her daily talk show, Gibbons become a frequent and respected speaker about the topic on radio and television.

In 2002 Gibbons formed the nonprofit Memory Foundation. The foundation's signature program is Leeza's Place, a series of community-based locations that offer comfort, education, and care freely to people newly diagnosed with memory disorders and their caregivers.

Leeza's Place centers are designed to develop continuums of care within communities. Three centers are open now, and many others are in various stages of development. The Memory Foundation's goal is for every community to have a Leeza's Place within the next decade.

Gibbons is widely recognized for her advocacy of early diagnosis and as a champion of preserving cherished family memories. One unique feature of Leeza's Place is a program called Memory Television where families have the opportunity to create a video scrapbook of their memories. Families learn to view the camera as a nonjudgmental "listener" and find a measure of solace during a time of pain and grief.

"We are thrilled to be able to present this award to Ms. Gibbons," said Kenneth M. Viste, Jr., MD, chair of the AAN Foundation. "Her efforts to educate the public about Alzheimer's disease and advocate for those affected have made a significant contribution, especially for caregivers and family members."

Gibbons also serves as a national spokesperson for the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's National Memory Screening Day and as a member of the celebrity cabinet for the Red Cross Caregiver campaign.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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