Department of Family Services – Older Adults

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 708
Fairfax, VA 22035

Trina Mayhan-Webb,
Division Director

Golden Gazette

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2021 January

(Access the printed version.)

three people in holiday attire standing side by sideCharting a Course for the New Year with No Regrets
Along with New Year’s resolutions, January often brings back memories—especially the moments that make you happy and proud. For Debra Tinker, wife, mother, teacher, veteran, psychologist, editor, and dancer, reflecting on life’s achievements and understanding that you are responsible for your own happiness moves her forward in an already full life. Learn about Debra's story.

collage photos person helping person in wheelchair and person holding plantsSocial Isolation, Technology and Wellness Identified as Key Issues Facing Older Adults During COVID-19
For the older adult community, the pandemic has exacerbated physical and mental health challenges leading to social isolation and fear. Recently, the Department of Family Services Fairfax Area Agency on Aging led the effort to develop a response plan, affirmed by the Board of Supervisors, to address the critical issues faced by older adults during the pandemic. Learn about the three primary categories of needs identified: Social Isolation, Technology and Wellness.

Medicare illustrative graphicWhat Changes Are Coming to Medicare in 2021?
Fairfax Area Agency on Aging’s staff have established a virtual format to assist older adults who are enrolling in Medicare or needing help to identify appropriate insurance plans. Learn about the changes coming to Medicare in 2021. If you have questions, please contact the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (VICAP) at 703-324-5851, TTY 711.

Robert KeifertRobert N. Keifert: A Life of Taking Care of Those He Loves
Veteran Robert Keifert had a big advantage when it came to understanding life. Not only did he survive World War II, but he also witnessed a century of historic events. According to Robert, his service and experiences affected how he lived. He learned that self-discipline, not wasting anything, and keeping it simple were good rules to live by. Learn more about Robert's story.

sitting area with two chairs, lamps, sofas and one coffee tableOmbudsman: What is a Compassionate Care Visit? 
Residents in long-term care facilities have the right to receive visitors, such as family, friends, or organizations and individuals providing health, social, legal, or other services. However, there may be circumstances when visitation is restricted for various reasons. During these times, a resident may still be able to receive a visitor for compassionate care purposes. Compassionate care not only includes end-of-life situations, but also can pertain to a variety of other circumstances. Learn more about compassionate care visitation.

fruits and vegetables grouped togetherFive Tips for Eating Healthy in the New Year
The new year is a great time to implement some easy changes to your regular mealtime routines. Learn about the five tips that may help boost your health and feelings of well-being in 2021:

1. Stay hydrated.
2. Fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables.
3. Enjoy plant-based proteins often.
4. Choose foods and beverages that are low in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.
5. Connect with others during mealtime.

Carol Dexter writing cardsNew Caring Cards Program Lifts Spirit
Due to the pandemic, Fairfax County senior centers began offering activities virtually. In an effort to remind older adults that others were thinking of them and to reduce social isolation, Volunteer Solutions created a program called “Caring Cards.” So far, over 1,000 cards have been created and distributed to older adults in Fairfax County! Learn more about the caring cards program.

Caregiving Tips and Upcoming ElderLink Programs

As most physical and social environments have closed or moved online, caregivers are now limited in their opportunities to get relief from their responsibilities—specially caregivers whose loved ones are at home and can no longer attend a day program. The pandemic has not only impacted caregivers’ ability to access supportive services, but it has also affected daily routines.

If you are struggling to engage and entertain your loved one, why not develop a new daily routine to help? Incorporate activities in your day that your loved one can do at home—watching a movie or talking with family or friends via phone.
To learn more about caregiver resources and services, contact our Aging, Disability, Caregiver Resource line at 703-324-7948 or visit Fairfax County Older Adults and select Family Caregiver Support program.

ElderLink Caregiver Support Call
Even with good planning, caregiving is an unexpected adventure. Let's talk about the ups and downs of your journey. Join us on Tuesday, Jan. 12 from 7-8 p.m. The call is facilitated by two dynamic and experienced ElderLink social workers, Krystale Noriega and Jennifer Purcell. Register online at Fairfax County Older Adults look for the links in the Hot Topics. You can also call 703-324-5374 or email Krystale Noriega or Jennifer Purcell. An access link and phone number will be provided after registration.

Fairfax County Library: Digital Programs 
Did you know that Fairfax County Library staff is busy creating and providing many programs, events, and services you can participate in from the comfort of your own home? Some of their digital programs and online activities include book clubs, trivia happy hour, film clubs, workshops, book discussions, and even a scavenger hunt. To learn more visit Fairfax County Library.

Café Latino – Virtual Support Group
The Alzheimer’s Association is pleased to announce Café Latino, a support group in Spanish for caregivers who look after those with Alzheimer's or other dementias. This group is a safe environment where caregivers can share, listen, and enjoy “zoom” coffee with others going through similar experiences. Meetings are the second Saturday of each month from 10-11:30 a.m. Participants may join the zoom meeting via telephone or computer. Find out more by emailing

Get Notifications with Fairfax Alerts! 
If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you. Family caregivers can receive email or text notifications of Fairfax County caregiver services and programs. Programs include case management, in-home respite, caregiver support and webinars, wellness workshops, and much more.

Visit Fairfax Alerts to create a Fairfax Alerts account and select Area Agency on Aging.

Upcoming ElderLink Programs 

Diabetes Self-Management. Jan. 20-Feb. 24, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Free. This program is for individuals interested in learning how to effectively manage their diabetes. Class offered via ZOOM. Contact Dianne Duke at 703-324-7721 or visit the registration webpage.

Chronic Disease Self-Management. Jan. 28- March 4, 11a.m.-Noon. Free. This program is for individuals interested in learning how to live better by effectively managing symptoms. Learn how to manage pain and fatigue, eat healthier, and remain active. Offered over the phone. To register, call Dianne Duke at 703-324-7721.

Caring for You, Caring for Me. Jan. 25-Feb. 22, 10 a.m.-Noon. Free. Program is a blend of interactive support and education for caregivers of older adults. Participants report increased confidence and competence in their caregiving role. Class offered via ZOOM. Contact Kristin Martin, 703-324-7577 or visit the registration webpage.

Exercise Supports Emotional and Mental Health

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), research has shown that exercise is not only good for your physical health, but also supports emotional and mental health. During COVID-19, exercise can help relieve emotional stress.

Here are some exercise ideas to help lift your mood:

  • Walking, bicycling, or dancing. Endurance activities increase your breathing, get your heart pumping, and boost chemicals in your body that may improve mood.
  • Yoga. This mind and body practice typically combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation.
  • Tai chi. This "moving meditation" involves shifting the body slowly, gently, and precisely, while breathing deeply. 

Visit NIA’s website to learn more about the emotional benefits of exercise.

Start a New Fitness Routine This Winter

(Article by the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services)

As temperatures drop and days get shorter, many of us are forced to stay indoors. This makes it difficult to maintain a fitness routine. Although many fitness classes are available online, where can you find live virtual classes created specifically for older adults and adults with disabilities?

Look no further than the Virtual Center for Active Adults (VCAA). Created to enrich the lives of older adults and adults with disabilities in Fairfax County while combating isolation, the VCAA offers more than 40 classes each week. 

Roughly half the classes are dedicated to health and wellness and are hosted on the VCAA’s Fit & FAB (Flexible, Active, Balanced) Zoom account. The classes range from low to high intensity and span a variety of interests and fitness objectives.

Want to improve muscle tone and balance? Consider taking a tai chi or Stay Active & Independent for Life class. Need to work on your flexibility? The VCAA offers yoga classes as well as full body stretching.

Want to have fun? Line dancing, dance fitness and high energy aerobics are energetic and enjoyable. Modifications can be made available so that anyone can participate. Best of all, VCAA classes are free! To view the weekly schedule of classes, visit the Virtual Center for Active Adults at NCSvcaa. To join a fitness class, log onto the Fit & FAB Zoom account at

Fairfax County Channel 16 Mature Living Programs

Tune in to Channel 16 for a taste of community! The award-winning station provides an interesting mix of county news and government proceedings as well as features on the interesting people and places that make Fairfax County such a wonderful place to live.

Shows include 16 Around Fairfax, County Magazine, the library’s Check It Out, and Parks Plus. Each of these programs include beautiful footage of county parks and facilities as well as interviews with county staff and residents.

You can enjoy Channel 16 programming online, anytime, or just turn on your television. Learn more about online programming, live streaming and the complete broadcast schedule.

Give Wisely in COVID Times - Federal Trade Commission Scam Alert

Thanks to COVID-19, many charitable organizations are faced with greater demand for their services, but less in donations as people have less to give. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure that your donation will be used wisely.

Remember these four tips when giving:

  • Search online for the cause you care about — like “help COVID victims” or “homeless kids” — plus phrases like “best charity” or “highly rated charity.” Once you find a specific charity you’re considering giving to, search for its name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.” If you find red flags, it might be best to find another organization.
  • Check out the charity’s website. Does it give information about the programs you want to support, or how it uses donations? How much of your donation will go directly to support the programs you care about? If you can’t find detailed information about a charity’s mission and programs, be suspicious.
  • Use one of these organizations to help you research charities: BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and GuideStar. The IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search tells you if your donation would be tax deductible.
  • See what your state’s charity regulator has to say about the charity. Don’t know who that is? Look it up at 
  • Donating on social media or through a crowdfunding campaign? Don’t assume solicitations on social media or crowdfunding campaigns are legitimate. Do your own research. And remember that crowdfunding campaigns are not tax deductible.

Find more tips at If you spot a bogus charity, report them to

Silver Shield Team on Staying Safe from Scams

Fairfax County Silver Shield Task Force graphic logoWe are all hoping for a healthy and safe year ahead, and part of that includes staying safe from scams. As we look at the scam outlook for 2021, there are, unfortunately, many scams on the horizon looking to take our money. 

The most discussed new scams are the ones related to the upcoming COVID-19 vaccines. According to, the top predicted scams for 2021 include fake contract tracing apps, fraudulent phone calls, phishing attempts and ransomware attacks. 

Learn more about staying safe from these scams.

Sage Advice for Driving in Fog

(Article by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department)

Is it a little foggy out? Well...maybe not, but when there is fog, please drive safely. Fairfax County firefighters and paramedics do not want to meet you at a preventable accident.

Follow these Driving in Fog safety tips provided by the National Weather Service:

  • Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Make your vehicle visible to others both ahead of you and behind you by using your low-beam headlights since this means your taillights will also be on. Use fog lights if you have them.
  • Never use your high-beam lights. Using high beam lights causes glare, making it more difficult for you to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
  • Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or changes in the traffic pattern.
  • To ensure you are staying in the proper lane, follow the lines on the road with your eyes.
  • In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location, such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.

For 2021, an Emergency Preparedness Resolution

(Article by Courtney Arroyo, Emergency Management Specialist, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management)

Let’s talk about an important New Year’s resolution—emergency preparedness. The steps are simple, and if you break them up throughout the year, you can be successful.

Plan: Make your emergency plan and practice it. Emergency Kit: Make your own emergency kit over the course of a year and add things that you use daily as you go along.

Emergency Information: How will you get official emergency information? 

  • Fairfax Alerts. Fairfax County’s free public emergency alerting system. You can customize your alerts to what you want to get, such as traffic, weather, and community updates. Fairfax Alerts also has the Functional Needs Registry, a subscription for you to receive additional notifications when emergencies are upon us. Sign up at Fairfax Alerts.
  • Social Media. Follow the Office of Emergency Management on social media @ReadyFairfax and Fairfax County @FairfaxCounty.
  • News. Watch the news daily and stay up to date on what is going on.
  • Weather Radio. Have a weather radio that can alert you of incoming severe weather. 

Fairfax County also has a Community Emergency Response Guide (CERG) that will walk you through the steps to preparedness. You can download a copy at Fairfax County Emergency Management.

Volunteer and Donation Opportunities

(Article by Tanya Erway, Volunteer Coordinator, Volunteer Solutions)

Free Daily Phone Calls Available from CareRing
If you struggle with isolation and loneliness, consider using CareRing of PRS, Inc. CareRing is a free program for the Northern Virginia 60+ community, dedicated to providing clients with daily phone calls to chat, remind them of their medications, and make sure they are OK. Go to for more information about the service or to volunteer. You may also call 703-516-6769.

Help Alleviate Hunger
Food For Neighbors, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit created in 2016, needs volunteers to help alleviate hunger in Northern Virginia by providing food assistance to middle and high school students. Their Red Bag Program addresses weekend food insecurity. Red Bag Program participants shop for nonperishable items at their convenience and set them on their doorsteps for collection approximately five times per year. Volunteers are needed to collect, sort, organize, and deliver food. 

If you can volunteer or donate food, grocery gift cards or even help financially, visit

Drivers Needed in the Herndon Area 
Herndon Village Network relies on volunteers to drive older adults to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and other activities. This service allows seniors to age in place, and it also helps them to remain connected with the community. If you or someone you know might be interested in helping, get more information here,

Be the Voice for a Vulnerable Child
Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) provides volunteer advocates to abused and neglected children referred by the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. Volunteers must commit to their assigned child(ren) throughout the life of the case (an average of two years) and visit them twice monthly, with COVID-19 safety precautions. The CASA volunteer is often the only consistent adult in the life of that child. The first step to becoming a CASA volunteer is to attend a virtual information session. Visit and/or email Shaina Goldberg at for more info Tuesday, Jan. 5 & Tuesday, Jan. 19, 

Transportation Options

The Shepherd’s Center

Losing the ability to drive poses real challenges to getting around. When a pandemic is added to this scenario, the need for volunteers becomes greater. If you need services, or would like to volunteer to help adults (55+) and their caregivers, select a Shepherd's Center below. Drivers are needed throughout the county, and some centers are also looking for administrative support, too. 

Driving includes going to the grocery store, pharmacy, bank, picking up food from a restaurant, taking others to medical appointments, and more. Volunteers choose their hours and preferred task. The Shepherd's Center adheres to CDC safety guidelines for volunteers.

  • Annandale/Springfield, 703-941-1419,
  • Fairfax/Burke, 703-323-4788,
  • Great Falls, 703-586-9696,
  • McLean/Arlington/Falls Church, 703-506-2199,
  • Oakton/Vienna/Reston/Herndon, 703-281-0538,
  • South County, 703-799-0505, email
  • Western Fairfax County, 703-246-5920,

More Nonprofit Driving Programs

  • Herndon Village Network, 703-375-9439,
  • Mount Vernon at Home, 703-303-4060,
  • Reston Community Center, 703-390-6198,

Community Calendar

Wednesday, Jan. 6, Lifetime Learning Institute/NOVA Forum, Patient Centricity in Pharma During the Time of COVID-19. Free.
Hear expert speaker Dr. Kalahn Taylor-Clark highlight how the pharmaceutical industry is responding to COVID-19 and its handling of health inequities. All are welcome, but you must register at by Monday, Jan. 4.  

Sunday, Jan. 10, 2-3 p.m. Historic Green Spring, Virtual Afternoon Tea: The History of Humor. Lecture is $12. 
Take an amusing tour through the ages to explore the history of humor and laughter. From the knee-slappers of Ancient Rome to political satire past and present, discover the cultural significance of humor and what comedy tells us about life and attitudes of the past. Register online at Fairfax County Parks (code AK1.RU88).

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 1-2:30 p.m. Virtual Genealogy Program. Your Family in Print. Free.
The Mount Vernon Genealogical Society is hosting a free lecture using Zoom by genealogist Sharon MacInnes about how to find and download county and family history books, articles, newspapers, manuscripts, etc. from different websites, libraries, and repositories. Details on accessing this presentation provided by email. Register by Friday, Jan. 15 by email. Further information is at

Sunday, Jan. 31, 1:30 p.m., Park Authority Winter Virtual Lecture Series: Eight Essential Tips for a Deer Resistant Garden with Karen Chapman. $10 per person.
Deer can turn a vibrant garden into a sea of chomped stems and damaged trees. Designer Karen Chapman offers eight key solutions that go beyond pungent chemicals and unattractive fencing. To register, go to Green Spring Gardens Events.

Check out the Golden Gazette's past newsletters – web version or printed version.

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