16 February 2017
After spending most of her life in health and human services, Lake Monticello resident Sue Liberman is putting her considerable experience to work by helping local seniors age safely in place.
Senior Solutions, Liberman’s business, focuses on helping older folks – and their families, who are often far away – feel confident that their homes are safe and they have the resources they need close at hand.
“There’s a significant population of grossly underserved older folks not just in Fluvanna but in Louisa and Orange too,” Liberman said. “My goal is to make sure they get care and services, have their needs met, and help the families of these wonderful people make healthy decisions.”Liberman can work as much with the adult children of seniors as she does with the seniors themselves. “Sometimes adult children think they know better and what’s going to be best,” she said – a dynamic that can cause a lot of friction between parents and children.
“The decision making needs to be in the elder’s best interest, yet at the same time keeping them safe and secure and the family comfortable and confident in making the right choices,” she said. Liberman helps by doing careful home and personal assessments.
“Is the house safe to live in? Can they walk safely through their house? Are there electrical cords or scatter rugs or safety issues? Do they have smoke alarms?” Liberman said she asks as she conducts her walk-throughs.
During her interactions with clients, she also considers their personal hygiene and emotional wellbeing, as well as whether they are able to cook for themselves and whether they remember to take medications.
Liberman helps to keep seniors in their homes by making their environment safer. She makes recommendations ranging from pulling up scatter rugs that could cause her client to trip to making sure a medic alert system is in the house.
“The challenge is, sometimes, getting everybody on the same page – but that’s human nature. Adult children don’t need to tear their hair out because mom or dad won’t be safe or accept help,” Liberman said.
“There is no way to stay totally objective trying to care for somebody we love and we’re close to. And when there’s no one around who can provide that objectivity, that’s where a Sue Liberman can be helpful,” she said.
The care for senior citizens that compelled Liberman to start her business began when she was a child.
“My interest in helping seniors started when I was about 6 years old. My grandparents were extremely important in my life. I liked to spend time with them,” Liberman said. “I’d sit in the corner and listen to their friends and their stories. I really preferred to be with them than with kids my own age.”
Liberman has worked in health and human services most of her life, she said. Working for a medical center in Chicago gave her exposure to working with elderly folks. Then she was given the opportunity to work for the first senior retirement community in Rochester, N.Y.
“I was able to start working in this community before ‘senior living’ really became an industry,” she said. “I absolutely loved it.”
Liberman worked as a director of marketing and public relations for them. “I’d get calls all the time [from adult children and their parents] asking me what to do and where to go...and I thought, ‘I could tell them. I could point them in the right direction.’”
She decided to become more hands-on. “So I became certified in gerontology at St. John Fisher College and started consulting as Senior Solutions while I was still in Rochester,” she said.
Then, while visiting her son and his family in Charlottesville, Liberman accepted a new job. She took on the responsibility to put Jefferson Heights, then a new retirement community, on Charlottesville’s map. “I came down to help open that building at the base of the hill at Westminster Canterbury. It’s called Commonwealth Assisted Living now,” she said.
She also snagged the opportunity to work for the Senior Center in Charlottesville by helping to develop its evening program. There she found herself, once again, helping seniors and their families with how to cope with aging and to do so gracefully as partners in the process. “So I started consulting again with Senior Solutions,” she said.
While holding other positions in Charlottesville, Liberman continued to develop her skills in elder care. Now she is excited to devote her time to helping seniors in Fluvanna, Charlottesville and surrounding areas age in place.
To contact Liberman with questions or to arrange a meeting, call 434-531-5298 or email