It may be an uncomfortable fact, but it’s true: we are all getting older! Fairfax County is home to more than 80,000 people age 60 and older, and more baby boomers join those legions every day. Providing services to senior citizens, whether long-term care assistance or recreational opportunities in our parks, for example, is one of the reasons the Board of Supervisors created a Board Committee on Aging last year. Under the chairmanship of Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman, the new committee commenced on an aggressive schedule to explore current trends and plan for the future.
Monday’s committee agenda focused on caregivers, often family members, who take on the responsibility of care for an aging relative, while trying to manage their own family and work schedule. The Fairfax Area Agency on Aging (AAA) was established by the Board in 1976 as directed by the federal Older Americans Act, and includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. The AAA’s primary goals are to improve the quality of life for older adults, and promote independent living for the same population. Among the AAA’s programs are employment training for those over 55 who would like to enter or re-enter the workforce, or are changing careers and need improved work skills; home delivered meals (Meals on Wheels) for homebound senior citizens; Friendship, Senior, utilizes volunteers to visit regularly with socially isolated senior adults to provide companionship and emotional support; a Nutritional Supplement Program; Family Caregiver Support; and Pets on Wheels, which brings volunteers and their pets into local long-term care facilities. The latter is a very popular program that brings smiles to patients and volunteers alike!
Panelists at Monday’s meeting noted that, many times, it is a family crisis that precipitates a call for help. Perhaps an elderly relative needs companionship after the death of a spouse, or a grandparent needs prescription assistance, or temporary rehabilitation is needed after a fall or discharge from the hospital. The caregiver is overwhelmed, and may need care or respite herself. SeniorNavigator.com is Virginia’s resource for health and aging. You can connect to hundreds of local programs and services by logging on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/seniors and click on SeniorNavigator. You can do a Quick Search by interest topic and ZIP Code, a Customized Search to refine your exploration, or Search by Subject to find articles and links. If you don’t have access to a computer, call SeniorNavigator toll free at 1-866-393-0957 to locate the nearest center where a trained professional can help you find the services you need.
You can reach the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/aaa, or call 703/324-5411. You might want to keep that number handy as it provides a single, important, point of contact for many issues for senior citizens. You don’t need a family crisis to call for information.