by Barbara Sherf
After working for over 20 years as a social worker, Wyndmoor resident Wendy Liebling saw a need to help families find resources for their aging parents and disabled relatives, so two years ago she founded Liebling Elder Care.
Liebling, whose last position was as an ombudsman for the Montgomery County Office of Aging, finds her new role “very rewarding when it works.
“People often need guidance to various resources, and I have seen the quality of lives improve significantly with the introduction of psychiatric support or a community day program. Sometimes it just requires an objective eye to assess an individual’s needs and match the right resources,” said the 53-year-old, who started Liebling Elder Care by helping the families of friends.
“The boomer generation is really being hit now, and I’m in the age group where a lot of my friends and colleagues have aging parents. I also get referrals from home health agencies when they feel the client’s needs are beyond what they can offer,” said Liebling, who has a Masters in Social Work and is a licensed social worker in Pennsylvania.
The C-ASWCM behind her name stands for Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager, a designation given by the National Association of Social Workers. Liebling is also affiliated with The National Association of Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) and is required to take continuing education classes throughout the year.
Sometimes a senior citizen hires her directly, but more often than not it is the children of aging parents who are hiring her.
“I don’t think people are inclined to be proactive with a lot of the issues. Human nature is to wait on things that we are uncomfortable with. When a care manager can work with someone proactively, that is great. But when they are working in a crisis mode, their optimal choices are limited,” she said.
Liebling believes that one of the larger issues society is facing is that of helping individuals who don’t have children or whose adult children live in another part of the country or another nation.
“Adult children are often busy with their own lives, and often I get involved when there is sibling conflict. I can be objective and serve as the voice of reason when emotions might otherwise come into play in the decision-making process,” she noted.
According to the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers, case management rates range from $80 to $175 per hour. Liebling says typically an assessment of someone’s psychosocial, medical, financial and social needs takes six to eight hours.
“Sometimes elders tend to be more accommodating to change when the options come from someone in a position of authority and not their children.”
Liebling knows her way around the system, rattling off resources and vowing to research others for families in need.
“No client situation is really the same,” she said. “Needs differ according to an individual’s situation, and I approach each client and their needs differently. I give them a roadmap and they choose what direction to take. Some choose to work in tandem with the care manager, and others choose to work more independently.”
In terms of giving back to the community, Liebling volunteers her time as an ombudsman with the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement. She also facilitates an Alzheimer’s Association support group on the third Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Center on the Hill at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill.
“There is a whole wave of people with cognitive impairment and dementia that we are seeing, and I try to help family members deal with the issues one step at a time,” she said.
For more information, visit www.lieblingeldercare.com or call 610-733-1473.