As we recognize World Mental Health Day (October 10), there is an invisible army of those for whom anxiety and depression is at an all-time high. They are family care- partners/caregivers for someone they love who is sick. The evidence is clear; caregivers feel more worried and more stressed than ever before. The pandemic has added more financial burdens and complications for family members who care. Depression among caregivers and care receivers is at epidemic proportions. The non-profit, Leeza’s Care Connection, is answering the call for help by adding new programs and team members to address the crisis.
TV host and NY Times best-selling author Leeza Gibbons, the founder of Leeza’s Care Connection says, “Our team is growing to meet the increased demands of caregivers, whose difficult jobs became nearly impossible because of Covid. Leading the list of new hires is Terri Towle as Director of Fund Development. Terri is an experienced fundraiser and creative leader who will be engaging new communities and supporters to bolster the organization’s signature programs and grow diversity. Cyndi Boot becomes the new Resource Assistant ensuring delivery of the organization’s promise to connect caregivers to resources, support and community.
They have also named Peggy Jones as Activities Director for the Silver Lining Club, a respite program offering activities, socialization and recreation to enhance and improve the lives of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Peggy and her mom Phyllis were among the first participants in the program, and now as Activities Director of Silver Lining Peggy has come full circle in her dementia journey. She says, “to have this opportunity gives me so much joy and peace knowing I can help give others the blessings mom and I received. It was truly a lifeline for me from the moment I first walked in with mom. Now, more than ever, caregivers need this kind of support.”
During the pandemic, Peggy Jones experienced an extra sense of overwhelm that came along with caring for her mom. Like most caregivers, she often felt stressed and worried. She credits the love and support she received at Leeza’s Care Connection (LCC) with helping her manage her mother Phyllis’ vascular dementia. “I was so grateful to find support for me and my mom”, Peggy says, adding, “I felt welcomed and relieved to find a safe place to voice my concerns and to learn as much as I could.”
As soon as she began joining activities at LCC, Phyllis began to show benefits. Peggy noticed “Mom seemed more confident, secure and she really loved the food, the music and the hugs. Every time we left an event or gathering, we felt special and joyful. I always walked away educated with more tools for how to care for mom.”
Peggy and Phyllis became popular fixtures at LCC since their first visit in 2016, but by 2021, Phyllis passed away. While Peggy was heartbroken, she also felt “relieved because mom was no longer struggling, and I didn’t want her to suffer. I was sad to miss her smile and feel her joy, but I knew I had done as much as I could to give her a peaceful, enriched life.”
The Silver Lining Club at LCC offers a community of diagnosed guests time to be creative, share a meal, sing and engage in activities. Founder Leeza Gibbons says it’s designed to “focus on what’s left instead of what’s lost. Silver Lining Club gives caregivers the respite they need knowing their loved one is being treated with dignity, respect and care”, adding “ We want to make sure that our caregivers don’t become collateral damage during the pandemic. Seeing Peggy honor her mother by stepping into her dream job as our director is proof that memories matter.”
For more information on Leeza’s Care Connection and their programs and resources for caregivers of those with dementia and other chronic illnesses, call Kena Dill at 803-888-7525 or visit http://www.LeezasCareConnection.org