From day centers, transportation assistance and everything in between, these area services provide caregivers and family members of older adults peace of mind.
With almost one-third of Virginia’s total population living in Northern Virginia and baby boomers rivaling millennials as the most populous generation of the 21st century, it’s no argument that residents 55 years old and older are prevalent in our society.
As certain demographics of the population get older, family members and caregivers are faced with changing circumstances and choices about medical and daily care and transportation. Fortunately, the City of Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Fredericksburg, Loudoun and Prince William counties have a pool of resources to ensure that no senior resident is left without adequate care.
Here’s a breakdown of the different options—and their specific benefits—in Northern Virginia.
Adult day centers
Adult day centers and senior centers are known for their safe, supervised environments in which area seniors can engage in activities that are mentally, physically and socially stimulating. Individuals who are 55-60 and up (check specific counties for age guidelines) who cannot live on their own during the day without assistance qualify for admittance to these centers, where they can forge new friendships, eat nutritional meals, get support from vetted caregivers and receive necessary medication from registered nurses.
Establishments such as the Herndon or Wakefield Senior Centers in Fairfax County set attainable fitness goals and provide transportation; the Warrenton Adult Day Healthcare Center in Fauquier County sets personalized programs based on individual interests; and Loudoun’s Carver and Cascades Senior Centers feature scheduled senior trips to D.C.’s Smithsonian museums, National Symphony concerts at the Kennedy Center and more.
Though the complete range of features depends on the area and center, all follow the mission of providing caregivers and family members peace of mind.
Most check-in services operate on a volunteer basis. However, those involved aim to meet resident needs and ensure that they do not require dire services such as medical assistance or home repairs. Arlington’s CareRing Daily Phone Check-In Service has volunteers make daily calls to registered, homebound residents who live alone. The program goes beyond a simple phone call with volunteers offering friendly companionship to those who need it.
The Arlington County Fire Department also has its own free Home Safety Check program through which firefighters check residents’ Arlington and Falls Church homes to make sure that all appliances and repairs are up-to-date. Arlington County also offers a program of in-home services that include those for disabled individuals in need of bathing, personal care, meal preparation and medication reminders.
In Fauquier County, the Adult Services department also has a home-based program. Fauquier’s program includes a trained companion who will provide in-home assistance (think housekeeping, laundry and meal preparations) for 20 hours every week.
Emergency Alert Systems
For family members of seniors who live alone, a constant worry is that a loved one will suffer a physical injury or medical emergency when no one is around. Luckily, NoVA is home to various notification systems to keep medical services only one click away.
The Arlington Alert system is an opt-in program for emergency notifications that will alert users to potential safety hazards outside of the home. To check on the home’s occupant when a hazard or incident is detected, the system makes multiple attempts at communication so that your senior can let the system know the warning has been received and that they are OK.
There’s also the Arlington-based Personal Emergency Response Lifeline and Fredericksburg’s Project Lifesaver: Bringing Loves Ones Home. The former is a service with 24/7 access to medical and social services from the Virginia Hospital Center, while the latter works with the Fredericksburg Police Department to equip users with a personal transmitter that emits a continuous tracking signal. When family members or caregivers report a Project Lifesaver user as missing, the transmitter provides notification and location responses to find and save individuals, reducing the chance of serious injury to older adults.
Area home-delivery programs are all-encompassing, offering grocery services and medication drop-offs. Arlington’s Food Assistance Center delivers free groceries to residents who can’t afford to buy them. And the Arlington Neighborhood Village allows older residents to live on their own while providing transportation services, health and wellness programs, social activities and repairs.
In Loudoun, the Area Agency on Aging sponsors a Home-Delivered Meals Program for residents at least 60 years old. Nutritious noontime meals are delivered Monday through Friday to those who cannot prepare their own meals or attend any area senior center for medical or physical reasons.
All counties and cities in NoVA also host Meals on Wheels, which delivers hot meals to residents unable to purchase their own meals Monday through Friday.
As people age and their motor skills begin to decline, driving can become difficult, if not impossible. With NoVA’s proximity to the Metro, residents have access to MetroAccess. This door-to-door transit service transports people who qualify from anywhere in D.C., Arlington and Fairfax counties, Alexandria and Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. This experience is shared-ride, so multiple passengers will be on the bus at the same time.
In addition, Fairfax County hosts Fastran, a specialized transportation service in Fairfax and Falls Church that takes residents to and from medical care appointments, senior centers and residences. For more NoVA-wide options, there’s the Virginia Non-emergency Medical Transportation.
Finally, in the most extreme of cases, every county and city in the Northern Virginia area has a department dedicated to Adult Protective Services. While family members can find caregiver portals to find an assistant for their senior (requirements state the individual must be 60 years or older and a recipient of home-based care) and their particular needs, they can also report cases of sexual abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.