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

Golden Gazette newsletter banner graphic

2022 January

Feature Articles

Charles Williams and wife RuthCharles Williams: Show Stopper!
Although Charles Williams is 85 years of age and semi-retired, he continues to teach at the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C. He credits his mom and grandmother for encouraging his musical talents in singing and piano. Charles has traveled throughout Europe acting and singing in theaters and opera houses in Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Italy. He shares fondly of his wife's partnership and support throughout the years. Learn about Charles' adventurous experiences!

Hope Card sampleHope Card Offers Proof of Protective Order and More
Fairfax County participates in the Hope Card program—a way to enforce a civil protective order and a handy resource for victims of family abuse. A Hope Card is a laminated, wallet-sized card that contains easy-to-read essential information of an existing, permanent civil protection order. Learn more about the Hope Card.

Free Virtual 50+ Employment Expo, Friday, Feb. 18 and Thursday, April 21

If you are over 50 and looking for employment, you won’t want to miss the Virtual 50+ Employment Expo sponsored by the Jewish Council for the Aging.

This is your opportunity to: 

  • Network with area employers.
  • Attend free workshops.
  • Learn new job-search skills.

There will be multiple employers with available full-time and part-time salaried job opportunities. Visit for a continually updated list of employers including Fairfax County government.

The expo website also contains a full list of community resources, training, and education information. For questions, email Ann Happ, expo coordinator, at

Fairfax Area Commission on Aging

(Article by Jacquie Woodruff, Legislative and Policy Supervisor, 
Fairfax Area Agency on Aging)

The Fairfax Area Commission on Aging (COA) is an advisory board mandated by the Older Americans Act. Commissioners for the Fairfax Area Commission on Aging are appointed by the Board of Supervisors and the City Councils of the City of Fairfax and the City of Falls Church.

On Dec. 7, COA Chair Cathy Cole provided testimony at the Board of Supervisors Public Hearing to Amend and Expand Eligibility for the county’s Senior Real Estate Tax Relief Program for Age and Income Qualified Individuals.

At the Dec. 15 COA meeting, Volunteer Solutions staff continued the discussion about current and developing initiatives addressing social isolation. (See page 12) The commission also brainstormed on their workplan for a SWOT analysis to support the SHAPE the Future of Aging Plan development.  SWOT is a strategic planning and strategic management technique used to help identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to project planning.

COA Meeting Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.

The COA continues to meet virtually this month.

Access Code: COA-m1234!

Live meeting audio by dialing: 888-270-9936 or 602-333-0032
Conference Code: 231525

Need ADA accommodations? Contact Hilda Naranjo by phone 703-324-7496, TTY 711 or email.

Please note that electronic meetings are scheduled due to the State of Emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Find updates online.

SHAPE the Future of Aging Survey for Older Adults Coming in February

(Article from the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging)

SHAPE the future graphicFairfax County, together with the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, wants to learn more about the aging experience in our area to plan for a more aging-friendly community. The new SHAPE the Future of Aging Survey, known officially as the Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults (CASOA), will be sent to a scientifically random sample of adults ages 50 and older in February. Selected recipients will receive an advance postcard to notify them that a letter and the survey will soon arrive.

The survey will ask for information about the lifestyles of these older adults, including opportunities to work, socialize and volunteer, as well as issues they face, such as retirement, housing, and caregiving, and their use of community services like public transportation and Senior Centers.

The survey will be available in Arabic, English, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Information collected will be used to inform the SHAPE Future of Aging Plan, a strategic plan for aging services. Those who receive the survey are encouraged to participate.
Those who don’t receive a survey will have a chance to contribute additional insight and feedback during community forums and focus groups scheduled in fall 2022.

The previous CASOA was distributed in 2019 as part of the 50+ Community Action plan. The final report of that survey was presented to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2019 and contributed to development of the Fairfax Countywide Strategic Plan.

Preparedness is a Key Resolution for the New Year

(Article from the Fairfax County Department of Emergency Management and Security)

Consider emergency preparedness for your New Year’s resolution. The steps are easy to follow on the Department of Emergency Management and Security’s yearlong calendar page at Fairfax County Emergency Management and Security. The calendar outlines how to prepare with just three key steps:

1) make a plan,

2) make an emergency kit, and

3) make the decision to stay informed by using these county resources:

Fairfax Alerts—Fairfax County’s free public emergency alert system. You can customize your alerts to your preferences like traffic, weather, and community updates. Fairfax Alerts also has the Functional Needs Registry, a subscription that provides additional notifications when emergencies occur. Sign up now at Fairfax County Alerts.

Social Media. Follow on Twitter @ReadyFairfax and @FairfaxCountyGovernment.

The Community Emergency Response Guide helps with understanding the vital process of preparedness.

Unhappy with Your Medicare Advantage Plan?

(Article from the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program)

If you are unhappy with your current Medicare Advantage Plan, you can leave it and change to Original Medicare between Jan. 1-Marchr 3.

Switching to Original Medicare provides the opportunity to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan until March 3.

Coverage begins the first day of the month after your enrollment form is received.

Questions? Call the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program at 703-324-5851.

Reminder for Everyone to Get Their COVID-19 Vaccine Booster

(Article from the Fairfax County Health Department)

In early December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strengthened the recommendation on booster doses, encouraging everyone 18 and older to get a booster shot. 

Timing Your Booster

Those who received a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should get a booster six months after their initial series.
Those who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive a booster two months after their initial dose.
Getting vaccinated reduces your risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death; it also helps reduce the spread of the virus in the communities. It is particularly important for older adults to receive their booster, as this community has a higher risk for severe disease if they become infected with COVID-19.

How to Get Your Booster

The vaccine is widely available in the Fairfax Health District. Pharmacies, grocery stores, physician offices offer vaccine, and the Health Department has vaccination centers throughout the area, including at the Fairfax Government Center. The Community Vaccination Center, located at the former Lord & Taylor at the Tyson's Corner Center, is also available for vaccination. Go to or to search for a vaccine opportunity.

Encourage Your Family to Get a Booster

Everyone is encouraged to have conversations about the vaccine with their loved ones. Consider reminding those in your family who are eligible to get an appointment.

Do not delay. Get your booster today!

Heating Your Home Using a Fireplace or Wood Burning Stove? Be Safe!

(Article from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department)

This is the time of year when the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) begins to see an increase in residential building fires.

feet warming by fireplaceAccording to Fire Chief John Butler, a large percentage of fires are preventable, and he encourages all county residents to take an active role practicing and promoting safe behavior.

“If you use a wood-burning stove or fireplace, make sure your chimney is clean and in good working order by having a licensed chimney sweep clean and inspect it,” says Butler. “Do this at least once a year.”

He also says that a dirty chimney flue may result in a chimney fire that can spread and cause significant damage. Here are safety recommendations to follow:

  • Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a covered metal container outside and well away from the house.
  • Have your chimney inspected at least once a year or more.
  • Place a glass or metal spark screen in front of fireplace and install caps on chimneys.
  • Never use a flammable liquid (gasoline, lighter fluid) to start a fire or rekindle one.
  • Keep paper, clothing, trash, and other combustibles at least three feet away from your furnace, hot water heater, or wood-burning device.
  • Follow manufacturer instructions carefully. Many “non-masonry” fireplace/chimney units have heat limitations they can safely withstand.

Chief Butler asks you to share all safety tips with family and friends. For more fire safety information, go to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

How to Save Money with Home Heating Costs

(Article from the Federal Trade Commission)

Experts says it’s going to be expensive to heat your home this winter. Here are ways to cut energy costs.

  • Do a home energy audit. It’ll tell you how efficient your heating system is and where your home is wasting energy. Your utility company may offer free or low-cost energy assessments or refer you to someone who does. You also can check with your state or local government energy or weatherization office for recommendations or visit for more resources.
  • Seal air leaks around windows, doors, and places where pipes and wires come through walls. Check caulking and weather-stripping for gaps or cracks.
  • Check ducts for holes and gaps. You can seal some leaks with mastic sealant or metal tape.
  • Bring your insulation up to DOE-recommended levels if needed.
  • Lower your thermostat before you go to bed or get a programmable thermostat. 
  • Check filters for cleaning or replacement.
  • Consider a budget-billing program. While you won’t pay less, your costs will be spread evenly over the year. If you’re on a fixed income or have trouble paying your utility bills, contact your utility company or the Fairfax County Crisis Assistance Program at 703-324-4328.
  • Shop around. If you use heating oil or natural gas, make sure you’re getting a good price.

Learn more at

Some Hearing Loss is Preventable

(Article from Disability Rights and Resources, Department of Family Services)

Are you suffering from hearing loss? Noises that are too loud and long-lasting can damage hearing. Even hearing loud noises for a brief time can do damage. Sometimes this damage can be permanent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 million adults ages 20 to 69 have hearing loss from noise. Loud noise exposure can come from work, home, or leisure activities.

Everyone can suffer noise-induced hearing loss. Things like loud sirens, music played loudly, and lawn equipment can threaten your hearing. Hearing loss from noise can happen instantly—when a loud sound happens very close to your ears—or it can occur gradually. The louder the sound, the more damage it can cause to the sensitive structures of your inner ear. If your hearing loss occurs gradually, you may not even recognize it.

The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders suggests these tips to protect your hearing:

  • Lower the volume.
  • Move away from the noise when possible.
  • Wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or protective earmuffs.

To identify noise levels, use a smartphone app. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers a free Sound Level Meter app for iOS devices.

Find more information at

How to Reduce Mask Mutter

(Article from the National Institutes of Health)

Wearing a face covering is an important part of keeping you and others healthy. But they can also make talking to those around you more difficult. Face coverings can muffle sound. They can also hide important clues about the speaker’s message and emotions. This can make it hard to understand speech, especially for those with hearing loss.

two people sitting masked looking at each otherNow, more than ever, it’s important to make an extra effort to communicate. Speak more clearly and louder than you normally would, without shouting. Reduce background noise when possible. Be aware that physical distance can also make hearing more difficult.

Make sure the person you’re speaking with understands you. You can also offer to use another method—a smartphone or paper and pen—to get your message across. When it’s vital that you understand spoken details, like at a doctor’s appointment, bring a friend to help.

Face coverings can make communication challenging for everyone. But people with hearing problems often rely on lip-reading to understand what’s being said. Consider using a clear face covering to make your mouth visible. With a little extra effort and problem solving, we can all communicate clearly while staying safe.

Learn more tips on improving communication when wearing a face mask at

Resolve to Take Care of Yourself this Year

(Article by Giuliana Valencia, Social Services Specialist, Fairfax Area Agency on Aging)

older adult hugging parent outsideIt is common for family caregivers to neglect their own emotional and health needs. In a 2020 AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving report, Caregiving in the U.S., family caregivers are in worse health than five years ago.

Additionally, reports suggest that the emotional and physical demands of caregiving put them at a higher risk for injury and adverse events.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you are constantly worried, often tired, getting too much or not enough sleep, gaining or losing weight, easily irritated, losing interest in activities, sad; frequent headaches, body pain, or other physical problems; abusing alcohol/drugs—including prescription medications, you might be experiencing caregiver stress.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that long-term stress may contribute to serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes. This also includes mental disorders. It is very important to seek professional help, join support groups, access respite programs, and connect with local caregiver resources.

To learn more about Fairfax County caregiver programs, visit online or call the Aging Disability, and Caregiver Resource Line at 703-324-7948.

Caregiver Stroke In-Person Support Group

The Fairfax Health Department offers a caregiver stroke group that provides a safe place to talk about the challenges of stroke survivors. There is no structure or agenda as the topic of each meeting is up to the caregivers. To attend this in-person meeting at the Joseph Willard Health Center, contact Erica Wrenn at 703-246-7151. Before the meeting, you must complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire. Not completing the form will exclude you from the meeting.

Dates for the next 2022 caregiver meetings: 
Saturday, Jan. 8, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 9, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 9, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 8, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

For more details, go to online or call Erica Wrenn at 703-246-7151 or 703-246-7120, TTY 711

Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body: Tips from the Latest Research Webinar

Learn about the four areas of lifestyle habits associated with healthy aging. In this virtual seminar, Phyllis Humphrey from the Alzheimer’s Association will discuss information and tools to help incorporate recommendations into a plan for healthy aging adults. This is a Fairfax County Library presentation on Thursday, Jan. 13, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Register at

Virtual Kinship Cafés

First Wednesday and third Thursday of the month, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Free.

Are you raising a child for a family member or a grandparent raising a grandchild?  If yes, you are a kinship caregiver. Fairfax County’s Parenting Education Programs offer support to kinship families through Virtual Kinship Cafés. These cafés help build an important community among kinship caregivers. The cafes offer a supportive and safe environment for kinship caregivers. For more information including a link to participate, email or call Mary Elizabeth Fleming at 703-324-7870.

Volunteer Advocates Needed for Ombudsman Program

(Article by Camden Doren, Social Services Specialist, Ombudsman Program, Department of Family Services)

Many residents in long-term care (LTC) facilities can sometimes feel alone, isolated, and powerless.

As a mandated program under the Older Americans Act, the Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (NVLTCOP) is often called on to assist residents and consumers to advocate for their rights to ensure quality of care and quality of life.

The NVLTCOP needs volunteers who can advocate for the rights of residents in LTC facilities and help them with concerns that they are unable to resolve alone.

If you possess skills in listening, communicating, problem solving, empathy, and want to help residents, please consider becoming a Volunteer Ombudsman.

We seek volunteers who are willing to complete a comprehensive initial three-day training, commit to a minimum one year of service, and who can devote at least four hours per week assisting residents at assigned facilities close to home or work.

In addition, each volunteer will be required to participate in ongoing training opportunities throughout their tenure with the NVLTCOP. The next training will be held in March.

For more information about long-term care services, or nursing facility and assisted living concerns, please call the NVLTCOP at 703-324-5861, TTY 711 or contact the Ombudsman Program by email.

Free Virtual Caregiver Programs and Support Calls 

(Article from ElderLink, Adult and Aging Services, Department of Family Services)

Live Well: Virtual Chronic Disease Self-Management, Jan. 24- March 7, (no session on Feb, 21, Presidents’ Day) 10:30 -12:30. 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 via Zoom. Registration is required online or call Dianne Duke at 703-324-7721.

person talking on phone, black and white photoElderLink Monthly Virtual Support Call for Family Caregivers of Older Adults, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 7-8 p.m., Free. 
Join us to discuss Maintaining Relationships While Caregiving. Being a caregiver for an older adult can be a very demanding role. It can sometimes leave caregivers with little time or energy to maintain relationships with others who are also important in their lives. However, it is essential to keep these relationships healthy for many reasons, including the fact that friends and family can help in times of struggle by providing relief from the stresses of caregiving. Please join us for this invaluable and empowering caregiving discussion. Register online.

Virtual Diabetes Self-Management, Feb. 2-March 9, 10 a.m.-Noon. Free. 
This program is for individuals interested in learning how to effectively manage their diabetes. The program benefits those with diabetes and pre-diabetes. The class is offered via Zoom. To register, contact Dianne Duke at 703-324-7721 or online.

New Year, New Volunteer Opportunities for Socialization 

(Article by Tanya Erway, Volunteer Solutions Recruitment Coordinator, Fairfax Area Agency on Aging)

multiple black calculators and note with words Tax SeasonBob Dylan’s music may not be for everyone, but most people will agree with the current relevancy of his 1989 hit, “The Times They Are A-Changin.”

For Volunteer Solutions, fortunately, the mission hasn’t changed: To mobilize and connect volunteers with meaningful opportunities to improve the lives of older adults, adults with disabilities, and family caregivers.

The issue of social isolation isn’t new. It has been a topic of concern for older adults prior to and during the pandemic. To help address this issue, Volunteer Solutions is offering new opportunities for volunteers to provide additional socialization for Meals on Wheels (MOW) recipients.

A mealtime visitor role was created. This position enables volunteers to share a meal, chat, and form connections with MOW recipients. The volunteer visitors bring their own snack or meal and spend time with MOW recipients. They meet once per week at a mealtime that is flexible and predetermined by the recipient and volunteer. According to Tara Turner, Director, Area Agency on Aging, “It’s a win-win that provides socialization for both parties.”

Volunteer Solutions also offers several additional volunteer opportunities targeted at decreasing social isolation among adults who have an assigned Fairfax County Adult and Aging case manager. Recruitment is currently underway for mealtime visitors, social visiting (in person or virtual), grocery shopping, medical and general transportation, or helping with basic household tasks. 
Bilingual volunteers are especially needed. If you’re interested in any of these opportunities, please go online to learn more or call 703-324-5406.

Inova Fair Oaks Thrift Shop

Volunteers are needed at Inova Fair Oaks Thrift Shop, 9683 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax, located near the Fairfax traffic circle. Help receive items, sort, price, place the items out, or, as a cashier. They need volunteers one day a week for four or more hours, Tuesday-Saturday between 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thrift Shop proceeds go to the purchase of equipment and to support ongoing hospital projects. Call or email Bonnie Rapson at 703-273-3519 or

If you’d like to advertise volunteer opportunities, send an email to Tanya Erway, Volunteer Solutions recruitment coordinator.

Volunteers Needed for the 2022 Filing Season

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program needs the following volunteers: greeters, interpreters (including ASL), screeners, and tax preparers. No tax training is needed for greeters and interpreters. Free training (classroom and online) is available for screeners and tax preparers.

The VITA program offers free income tax preparation and filing services to individuals and families who earned $58,000 or less in 2021. The program operates from late January until April 15. 
Opportunities are available throughout Fairfax and Prince William counties. Hours are flexible, including evenings and weekends. Sign up at Select the Volunteers tab.

Contact Mal Williams for more details by email or call 703-533-5702.

Local Nonprofit Driving Programs

A medical appointment or trip to the pharmacy is a challenge if you no longer drive. Consider becoming a volunteer driver or office assistant/ride scheduler through one of these organizations.

Herndon Village Network

Mount Vernon at Home

Reston Community Center

Find Area Shepherd Centers

The Shepherd Centers are a non-profit organization sponsored by local area congregations, community groups, and individuals to serve adults 50 years and older.

Its primary purpose is to assist older adults to live independently in their homes and to offer programs for enrichment and socialization. They also provide transportation service. You must apply for the transportation service. Once accepted into the service, a request for a ride must be five days in advance.

The centers are also seeking volunteers. Call or email specific sites for information on what is available.

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

Register Now for NOVA Lifetime Learning Institute Classes and More

Lifetime Learning Institute (LLI/NOVA) invites you to to be part of its exciting 2022 spring term. It is also an opportunity to participate in other activities including monthly forums, day trips, classes, special interest groups, and social activities.

The spring term begins Monday, Jan. 3 and ends Friday, May 27. Registration is now open. LLI/NOVA is located at the Northern Virginia Community College, 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale. To learn more about programs, go to

Community Calendar

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 7-8:30 p.m. Crossing the Divide: 20 Lessons to Help You Thrive in Cross-Cultural Environments, Patrick Henry Library, Patrick Henry Room, Vienna, Free 
Are you ready for the new global reality? One where diverse cultures and ethnicities will make up your living and working environments? Can you relate your life experience to others? Can you adapt to changing settings? Journalist Jessica Stone uses her 20 years of adventures, mistakes, and triumphs to give you the keys to conquering these challenges. Books available for sale and signing. Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Ave. E, Vienna. For more details, call 703-938-0405.

Monday, Jan. 17, 8-9 a.m., Wreath Laying Service at the Martin Luther King Memorial, Free
Pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s legacy by attending an early morning wreath laying at the memorial that represents King's vision for Civil Rights in America. The address is 1964 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. Be sure to check for updates on this event at

Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 21, 22, 28, 29. Neil Simon’s, The Dinner Party, Vienna Community Center, Vienna
The Dinner Party is Neil Simon’s farcical take on love, marriage, divorce, and what comes after six strangers are invited to a mysterious dinner party. There is an 8 p.m. show time for Friday and Saturday performances. A Sunday show on Jan. 30 begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 at Vienna Community Center, 120 Cherry St., SE, Vienna.

Saturday, Jan. 22, 1-3 p.m., Chinese Teas to Celebrate Lunar New Year, Colvin Run Mill
Known as the birthplace of tea, China produces every type of tea—white, green, yellow, oolong, black, and dark. Learn how each of these unique types can be produced from the same plant and taste the difference. Tea infused treats and a take home tea sampler included in a $40 per person fee. Register by calling 703-759-2771. 

Sunday, Jan. 23, 1:30-2:30 p.m., Green Spring Gardens, Virtual Winter Lecture  
The importance of trees and shrubs for sustaining the bird population is not fully understood. By creating the proper habitat in our yards and public spaces, we can help slow the decline of birds. Fee is just $10. To enroll, call 703-642-5173.

Monday, Jan. 24, 7-8:30 p.m., The History of Northern Virginia’s Segregated Libraries, Virtual, Free 
Join the African American Genealogy Special Interest Group of the Fairfax Genealogical Society for this free presentation. Email Laura Wickstead, Virginia Room, Fairfax Regional Library, to register at or call 703-293-2136.

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 6-7 p.m., Cooking: Health Benefits of Korean Dishes, George Mason Regional Library, Virtual, Free
Find out about the amazing health benefits of Korean food while you enjoy homemade Korean cuisine. Participants will receive recipes and food list via email after registration. Register at

Friday, Feb. 4, Saturday, Feb. 5, Sunday, Feb. 6, Annual Chocolate Lovers Festival, City of Fairfax, Free.
The Chocolate Lovers Festival, an annual three-day “love of chocolate” is held on the first full weekend of February and features activities for all ages. For schedule of events, times, and locations, see and go to events page.

Please note that dates, prices, and times are correct at publishing. However, please confirm information by calling or checking provided phone numbers or websites.

Access the print version of this month's newsletter.*

Check out the past newsletters.

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*Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. To request reasonable accommodations or to receive this information in an alternate format, call 703-324-7948 or TTY 711.

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