Leeza Gibbons may be best known for her co-hosting role on Entertainment Tonight or for winning The Apprentice in the final season that Donald Trump hosted, but now, shes making name for herself in the medical space by raising awareness for caregivers.
I think caregivers are heroic, and I see the resilience and the fierce optimism with which they need to bring to that act of love every day, Gibbons told FoxNews.coms Dr. Manny Alvarez during a recent Health Talk, aligning with Novembers National Family Caregivers Month. As a society, we dont really see it; we dont recognize it.
According to the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), more than 65 million Americans, or 29 percent of the U.S. population, provide care for a family member or friend who is disabled or chronically ill, and spend an average of 20 hours per week doing so. That free assistance amounts to an estimated $375 billion a year, or twice as much as whats spent annually on homecare and nursing home services combined ($158 billion), according to CAN.
Through her foundation, Leezas Care Connection, Gibbons, 59, has aimed to help serve caregivers through connections with other people like themselves for the past 14 years. For example, using the projects services, parents of autistic children can connect, as can adults caring for a parent with Alzheimers disease, or a friend caring for a loved one with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Its a place where people can begin to answer that question, now what? she said. Our job is to help connect you to your own strength and grounding, so that you can have the energy to get through this marathon.
At its two physical locations, in Burbank, California, and Columbia, South Carolina, the network offers support groups and classes like yoga therapy and yoga.
Its easy to see this glass [as] totally empty, but the reality is its your glass, Gibbons said. You own it, so you have to be the one responsible for what you put in that glass.
Gibbons offered a handful of tips for caregivers to help fill that glass on their own:
1.) Take your oxygen first
While stressed, many people have the tendency to take shallow breaths, but Gibbons advised resisting that inclination by using a mantra.
If you can do the mantra Breathe, believe, receive, I think those are three really important things to slow down your heart rate [and] lower your blood pressure.
She also recommended opening yourself to help, either by channeling your inner strength or looking to a higher power.
Stop achieving [and] start receiving for a little bit, she added. People really do want to help.
2.) Talk as a family
[As a caregiver], no one sends you a card saying, Way to go, good luck with that caregiving thing, Gibbons explained. We tend to kind of isolate and walk a very lonely path.
Instead of isolating yourself, which can contribute to depression, let everyone in your family have a voice, Gibbons suggested. Doing so can help banish feelings of blame, resentment, and guilt over not being able to fix a loved ones health problem or provide the level of care you would like.
Just have that family check-in, whether its [through] Skype, Facetime or conference calls so that everyone feels valued and heard, she said.
These conversations can help all parties involved feel considered especially caregivers, who may not feel recognized for their work.
If there are people out there that are doing this work, and theres 65 million of us, just acknowledge somebody: Gosh, I know what youre doing is hard, but youre doing great, she suggested.
Read more: www.foxnews.com