Maryland Department of Aging August News

August News

MDOA Announces New Deputy Secretary


Maryland Department of Aging Secretary Carmel Roques is pleased to announce the promotion of Jennifer Crawley to the position of Deputy Secretary upon the recent retirement of former Deputy Bernice Hutchinson.

Crawley brings to the department 25 years of combined experience in local government and the private healthcare industry, including program administration, population health, patient advocacy, building and facilitating collaborations, stakeholder engagement, care coordination, and leading cross-functional teams.

Prior to joining the department as the Director of Multisector Planning for Aging, Jenna served as the Area Agency on Aging Administrator for Howard County, where she oversaw programs and services for older adults, caregivers, and individuals living with disabilities, including establishing and directing pandemic response services and initiating Howard County Age-Friendly.

Before serving in Howard County, Crawley oversaw daily operations of Medicaid home and community-based long-term care services for the District of Columbia Department of Healthcare Finance and was the Chief Social Worker for a home-based primary medical care team. Crawley earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and her Bachelor of Science in Family Studies from UMD, College Park.

MDOA Brings Cognitive and Behavioral Health Specialist Onboard

The Maryland Department of Aging welcomes Mark Tesoro as the department’s new Cognitive and Behavioral Health Specialist, a role recently created by Secretary Carmel Roques as part of statewide efforts to explore and address challenges that impact healthy aging and longevity in Maryland.

"Our department is committed to understanding the burden of cognitive and behavioral health issues in older people and developing better and innovative strategies for addressing the concerns around dementia," Secretary Roques said. “Bringing Mark onto the team will help us expand services that build the capability of the aging network in collaboration with local Area Agencies on Aging, state partners, and diverse stakeholders.”

Tesoro joins the department as the Alzheimer's Association released new data that identifies Baltimore and Prince George’s Counties as two of the top five counties in the U.S. to have the greatest concentration of people living with Alzheimer's. Published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the report suggests demographic characteristics, such as higher percentages of older people and Black and Hispanic residents, may explain these findings.

“Sadly, both of these counties also experienced some of the biggest health disparities during the pandemic,” Secretary Roques noted. “The good news is that if we can better understand the prevalence of cognitive and behavioral health issues in Maryland, we can target more efficient ways to allocate funding and resources for Marylanders and their caregivers in an equitable manner.”

In addition to creating this new role, Secretary Roques said the department will continue working on a Multisector Plan for Aging to coordinate a system of high-quality care and support services that promotes healthy aging, independent living, and social engagement, while also addressing issues related to healthcare, housing, transportation, and other social determinants of health.

Alzheimer's Drug Covered by Medicare


When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month announced full approval of Leqembi, a drug that's been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease by 27%, Medicare announced it would cover costs for beneficiaries who are eligible. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) said the cost of the drug may be covered for enrollees who have been diagnosed with "mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer's disease dementia" and who have documented evidence of beta-amyloid plaque on the brain. Additionally, Medicare recipients can only receive coverage for Leqembi if their doctor agrees to participate in a treatment data collection registry.

Leqembi, the first drug fully approved by the FDA that slows cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients, is given intravenously in a provider’s office or other outpatient setting and costs about $26,500 per year before insurance coverage, according to the drug's manufacturers. While Medicare will cover a majority of the bill, patients with traditional Medicare who do not have supplemental insurance will pay 20% of the cost out-of-pocket. 

Click here to find out more about Medicare's coverage of Leqembi or go to

Lifestyle Changes Reduce Dementia Risk

Although certain risk factors for developing dementia are out of our control, including age and genetics, evidence shows that lifestyle and behavioral changes can help reduce the risk. Keeping active, eating a healthy diet, and exercising body and mind are just a few steps in the right direction. Here are some tips from the CDC to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's:

  • Prevent and manage high blood pressure
  • Manage blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Be physically active (which also reduces depression)
  • Quit smoking (free Quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-800-784-8669)
  • Avoid excessive drinking
  • Prevent and correct hearing loss
  • Get enough sleep
  • Maintain social connections to reduce isolation

Click here to learn more from the CDC about risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and the connection between lifestyle and Alzheimer's.

Stay Hydrated in Extreme Summer Heat


Unprecedented heat waves and record-breaking temperatures are being seen around the world, with last month recording the hottest temperatures in hundreds if not thousands of years, according to NASA scientists. In the U.S., the southern states dealt with the most extreme heat waves during the first half of July, with the heat spreading from coast to coast in the second half of the month.

During hot weather, older adults should give extra attention to staying hydrated as they are more susceptible to the risk of dehydration than other age groups. As you age, your body’s thirst signal diminishes, meaning you may not even realize your body needs water because you don’t feel thirsty like you once did. In addition, kidneys may not work as effectively with age, leading you to become dehydrated much more quickly than when you were younger. Finally, medications such as diuretics can cause dehydration, and interactions between medications can contribute as well.

Proper hydration helps regulate body temperature, support brain function and mood, and keep joints lubricated and digestion smooth. The best way to avoid dehydration is by keeping your body well-hydrated at all times with non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages. If you don't feel thirsty but need to drink more, set reminders on your phone or a timer to remind you to drink water throughout the day. Keep in mind that mild to moderate dehydration can be reversed by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment.

For tips from the National Institute on Aging on staying safe in hot weather, go to

National Immunization Awareness Month


As parents rush to vaccinate their school-aged children for the upcoming school year, it's important to note that older adults also need to stay up to date on immunizations. 

Getting vaccinated is one of the safest ways to protect your health. The CDC recommends that all adults are up to date on routine vaccinations, including COVID-19, Flu, and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough). For those over the age of 65, Pneumococcal and Shingles vaccinations are also recommended.

Medicare Part B fully covers flu, pneumococcal, COVID-19, and Hepatitis B if needed, while beneficiaries with Medicare Part D are eligible for Tdap and Shingles at no cost. To find out more about Medicare coverage for vaccines and other services, go to

Be sure to talk to your doctor about which vaccines you need. Learn more at

Offer Input on the Older Americans Act


It's not too late to provide your input on proposed rule changes to the Older Americans Act (OAA). Comments may be submitted online or by mail and must be received by 11:59pm EST, Tuesday, August 15, 2023. 

The U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) says the proposed changes better reflect the needs and expectations of today's older adults, including more support for non-medical services that help people avoid hospitalization and institutional care, potentially allowing millions of older adults to stay in their homes and age in place. In addition, ACL says the changes will clarify requirements for serving older adults during national disasters and other emergencies. If adopted, it will be the first substantial update made to the OAA in 35 years.

Click here for an overview of proposed OAA changes. In addition, the National Council on Aging will host a webinar titled "Modernizing the Older Americans Act: What it Means and How You Can Comment" on Thursday, August 3 at 1:00pm ET; click here to register. 

To make comments online, go to and enter 2023-12829, or mail written comments to: Administration on Aging, Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: ACL–AA17–P, 330 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20201.

Roques Continues Senior Center Visits


Maryland Department of Aging Secretary Carmel Roques continues to visit each of the 19 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and senior centers across the state, in an ongoing campaign to get to know local jurisdictions and spread her message of collaboration and partnership in the aging sector.

During her July visit to Montgomery County, Secretary Roques spoke with several local government officials, along with representatives from the Commission on Aging and the Villages. She also had the opportunity to share lunch with congregate meal participants at the Holiday Park Senior Center in Silver Spring.

"Talking to the boots-on-the-ground staff members who serve older adults across the state and engaging directly with seniors who take advantage of those services helps me better understand the challenges and opportunities we are facing," Secretary Roques said. 

While at the Holiday Park Senior Center, Secretary Roques tested out innovative outdoor exercise equipment, joined in the Bone Builders exercise class, and spent time strategizing with key staff and volunteers of the Ombudsman program and Aging and Disability Services.

Secretary Roques' visit to Montgomery County follows earlier visits this year to Allegany, Garrett, and Washington Counties, and Upper Shore Aging, representing Caroline, Kent, and Talbot Counties. Next month, she plans to visit Sudlersville and Grasonville Senior Centers and the new Queen Anne's County Area Agency on Aging headquarters.


Secretary Roques participates in the popular Bone Builders exercise class at Holiday Park Senior Center.