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Family Caregiver Support Program Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Family Caregiver Support Program

On Wednesday, April 11, 2 p.m., join Lucy Gerland, caregiver specialist with Fairfax County’s Area Agency on Aging, and Cathy Cole, director of Elderlink, for a discussion on caregiver services including general caregiving services and resources for caregivers. All family caregivers are welcome whether you provide care locally or long distance. Fairfax County’s Family Caregiver Support Program helps family caregivers of older adults and adults with a disability as well as grandparents and relatives (over 55) who serve as primary caregivers to children.

Lucy Gerland : Good afternoon, this is Lucy Gerland, caregiver specialist with the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging. Joining me today is Cathy Cole, director of ElderLink, Options for Caregiving. We are excited to be here today to answer your questions about caregiving.

Anonymous User : I live in Fairfax County but my elderly aunt lives in another state. How can I find resources for caring long distance? I'm so confused and I can't keep running back and forth like this.

Lucy Gerland : You can begin by calling the Aging, Disability and Caregiver Resource Line at 703-324-7948 and request a caregiver consultation. This is an hour-long consultation with a social worker/care manager in person or by phone. During this time, you can explain the situation and get suggestions on how to locate resources in the area where your family member lives.
You can also go to

Michelle : How do people call in to ask a question or is it just online?

Lucy Gerland : This is an online discussion. If you would like to talk with someone, call the Aging, Disability and Caregiver Resource Line at 703-324-7948.

Jack : I promised my Dad that I’d never put him in a nursing home but with his Alzheimer’s he can’t be alone and I need to work. We just can’t afford 8+ hours a day of home health. Any ideas?

Catherine Cole : A good option for you might be adult day health care centers.  There are six centers run by the Fairfax County Health Dept. and are open from 7 to 5:30.  These centers offer supervison, activities, meals, snacks and some medical oversight.  Fees are on a sliding scale.  Go to for more information or call 703-324-7948 to talk to an aging disabilities and caregiver resource specialist.

Anonymous User : How long does it take for a care manager to come to my home and perform an assessment?

Lucy Gerland : It generally takes a week to 10 days depending on the situation.

Dolores : What activities or programs are available for seniors with limited driving? Also, for seniors that only have a fixed income? We live in PWC, and everything seems so high. The only think he can do is the Senior center which doesn't over a big variety for him.

Catherine Cole : Since you live in Prince William Co. I'd refer you to the Prince William Area Agency on Aging, call 703-792-6400 for information in your county.

In Fairfax County, you might want to look at the senior centers located throughout the county.  There is transportation available to and from your local senior center.  These centers offer a variety of activities including trips as well as a hot noon meal.  There are plenty of opportunities to explore new and old interests, renew old friendships and begin new friendships.  Some of the senior centers also offer a senior plus program which provides extra support for those participants who may need a little more direction or adaptive recreational activities.  And don't forget the Adult Day Health Centers with programming for those with disabilities both physical and cognitive. 

Anonymous User : What is the location of the caregiver program meeting?

Lucy Gerland : Not sure what you mean. This is an online discussion. If you are referring to our caregiver seminars, they take place in various locations throughout the county. The spring series of seminars has just begun. We have seminars on topics such as legal issues for caregivers, long distance caregiving, Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. For a complete listing of seminars, visit  We also have a monthly telephone support group. Information on that is available at the same webpage.

Debra : I live in Fairfax County, VA, but my mother lives in Montgomery County, MD. I don't feel quite right about asking for services from either county because both of us aren't in the same county. Should I seek help from the county where the elderly person lives, or the county where I (the caregiver) live?

Catherine Cole : I would not worry about asking for services in either county.  If your mother needs supportive services to meet her needs, please call the county in which she lives.  In Montgomery County, the Aging and Disability Resource Unit number is  240-777-3000.  Since you are in Fairfax Co. you might want to take advantage of the caregiver consultations that are available to caregiver who live in the county.  You can schedule an appointment either in the office of by phone to discuss your concerns and questions with a social worker.  This is an opportunity to learn about services to look for in the area where your mother lives as well as address concerns that you as the caregiver might have.  Call the Aging Disabilities and Caregiver Resource number, 703-324-7948, to ask for a free consultation. 

Anonymous User : Seems like everything for seniors is for those who are low income or have Medicaid. Is there anything available for my parent or me? We've been Fairfax Co taxpayers for many years.

Lucy Gerland : Fairfax County offers many services to older adults and their caregivers. Some of these programs require assesments to determine the resident's eligibility. Many, however are available either free or with a copay or requested donation.
The Aging, Disabilities and Caregiver Resource Line is the best place to start when you are looking for services or have questions. The number is 703-324-7948 or TTY 711. You can also find information on our services at
Our county services include Senior Centers, Meals on Wheels, Adult Day Health Care and Adult Protective Services.
We also have free services for caregivers of older adults and adults with disabilities. They include seminars, support groups, and consultations.

Dianne : I think my mother may be dveloping dementia but she's very private. Lately I've seen her receiving alot of packages from QVC and sweepstake type publishers. She is very suspicious if I get her mail from the box. I think she may be being scammed but when I try to inquire she gets more secrative. What can I do to help and not get pushed away?

Lucy Gerland : Wow, that is a tough situation. For your concerns about scammers, contact the Fairfax County Financial Crimes unit at 703-246-7800 or go online to
For your concerns about her dementia and your relationship, request a caregiver consultation by calling 703-324-7948.

Anonymous User : My mother lives in another state over 1000 miles away. My sister lives closest to her and provides most of the caregiving needs, but she is still a 3 hour drive from Mom. How can I support my sister in her caregiving role? What should we have in place in case there is an emergency and mom needs immediate attention?

Catherine Cole : I have several suggestions - the first and foremost is to express appreciation for her time and concern for your mother - that you understand the commitment your sister has made.  Then there may be ways to task on some of the tasks on a regular basis that your sister is doing now.  Tasks such as ordering groceries on line; paying bills; reconciling the medical insurance claims; calling your mother on a regular scheduled basis to name a few.  Also, try to coordinate your extended visits to your mother when your sister can take time off from caregiving and get away - even if it means not having to leave her home!

Now the question about emergency plans:  Is there a trusted neighbor, a family friend?  Someone who is able and willing to go to your mother's home, someone your mother agrees to and trusts, to check on her if for some reason she doesn't answer the phone in a timely fashion.  Also, with your mother's persmission, everyone in the family or involved in her care should have the name and phone number of her doctors, a current list of her medications, heath insurance information and how to contact emergency personnel in the area.  You might also want to consider a personal emergency response system that your mother can activate in an emergency. 

Suzy : My mother has some signs of dementia - she thinks someone is coming into her apartment at night and sleeping in her closet. However, she's still sharp enough to refuse day care or other assistance. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Lucy Gerland : If you are seeing signs of dementia and your mother is living with this fear, it is very important that you consider calling our Aging, Disabilities and Caregiver Resource Line at 703-324-7948 and request a caregiver consultation. This free one-hour consultation can be done in person or over the phone and will be the best way to get information on how to handle your specific situation.

Suzie : What are the options in Fairfax County when a senior has no insurance but medicare, no income but SS, and needs assisted living? Thanks.

Catherine Cole : This is a difficult situation and Medicare doesnot pay for assisted living or any long term care.  It is strictly a health insurance program.  I would suggest requesting a functional and financial assessment to determine the appropriate level of care and the most appropriate means of providing this care.  With this information, the social worker coming to your home will be able to better discuss the options available to you.  Please call 703-324-7948, Aging, Disabilities, and Caregiver Resource number to request this assessment.

Anonymous User : My father is 70+ years old, diabetic, and has some problems with dizziness. What kind of assistance can he get to help him at home while I am working and out of the home for 12 hours a day?

Catherine Cole : One of your options is to privately pay for home health care but you might want to consider requesting an in home assessment so that a social worker can evaluate the situation - what supports are available and what is needed as well as identify other needs that might exist.  The social worker will then develop a care plan with options to meet your specific needs.  You, your father, and the social worker will then work together to put in place the supports needed.  Please call 703-324-7948 to request this assessment.

MF : I've been the sole caretaker for a parent since age 18. It's been almost ten years now. What happens when all of her financial resources are finally exhausted? Do individuals become a ward of the state? Are there protections against this that can keep them in better maintained facilities than some of the state institutions? Thanks.

Catherine Cole : Would you consider a caregiver consultation to address your specific concerns?  You might also want to consult with a financial planner to determine the best means of making her resources last and work for her as long as possible.  Please call 703-324-7948 to request a caregiver consultation.

Lucy Gerland : Thank you for joining us today. Although we were not able to answer all of the important questions submitted due to time constraints, we want you to know that there is help available.  Please call us at the Aging, Disabilities and Caregiver Resource Line 703-324-7948.
I also want to invite you to attend any of our caregiver seminars and to subscribe to Caregivers Corner Online, a monthly e-newsletter just for caregivers. You can get more information about both of these at