Maryland Department of Aging October News


Secretary Roques Honored by LifeSpan


Maryland Department of Aging Secretary Carmel Roques was honored to receive the prestigious 2023 Mayer Handelman Award from LifeSpan Network for her commitment and leadership in serving older adults and her ongoing efforts to make Maryland a place where people want to live and age.

"Carmel has been a transformational leader in senior care for more than 30 years, and she truly embodies all that the Mayer Handelman Award stands for: innovation, creativity, and integrity, in expanding education and learning opportunities for senior care leaders and staff," said William Hasson, past chair of the Beacon Board and last year's Handelman Award winner. Hasson, who presented the award to Secretary Roques at LifeSpan's annual conference in Ocean City, MD added, "It is an honor to work with a Secretary of Aging who continually endeavors to expand access and opportunities, not only for senior care leaders and staff, but for Maryland's seniors and their families."

Since entering office nine months ago, Secretary Roques has made it her mission to tranform the Maryland Department of Aging to one of action and leadership on behalf of older adults, their families, and caregivers. In addition to filling staff vacancies and rebuilding morale, Secretary Roques has initiated advancing a Multisector Plan for Aging, a long-term roadmap designed to make Maryland a place where all older people can lead lives that are healthy, financially secure, socially connected, and purposeful.

"Thank you to LifeSpan for recognizing my previous work on behalf of older Marylanders, and for highlighting the importance of the current work going on at the Department of Aging to make Maryland the first longevity-ready and aging-friendly state," Secretary Roques said. "We look forward to working with the LifeSpan Network as we continue developing a long-term strategic and sustainable state-wide infrastructure that will benefit Marylanders for years to come."

The Handelman award was created in 2016 by LifeSpan, The Beacon Institute, and the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists in honor of Mayer Handelman, whose career contributed greatly to the fields of senior care and pharmacy in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Medicare Open Enrollment Coming Soon


Medicare Open Enrollment starts on October 15th and runs through December 7th. State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselors are available to provide free, unbiased assistance as you compare your current plans with new options.

Open Enrollment is your time to review your Medicare health or drug coverage and decide if you want to make changes. Because Medicare costs and benefits can change each year, comparing your options could help you find better coverage or save money.

During Open Enrollment you can switch from your original Medicare Plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan or look at other options that can create additional plan coverage and/or savings or you keep your current coverage, which means you don't need to do anything.

Medicare can be confusing, so don't hesitate to reach out to a trained SHIP counselor in your area for help or guidance. Learn more:


October is Residents' Rights Month

October is National Long-Term Care Residents’ Rights Month, a time to focus on and raise awareness of the rights of residents living nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Residents’ rights are protected by law, and residents do not give up their rights as citizens when they enter a long-term care facility, including, but not limited to, the right to:

  • Be treated as an individual with dignity and respect
  • Be free from mental, verbal, sexual, and physical abuse
  • Participate in planning care and treatment or refuse treatment
  • Choose who visits you and meet privately with them
  • Have access to your medical records
  • Present grievances without fear of retaliation and get a prompt response from facility staff to resolve grievances
  • Security of your possessions
  • Click here for more residents' rights

The Maryland Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program offers free and confidential services to residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, their families, or others who are concerned about the care of a resident in a long-term care setting. Trained Ombudsmen are available in every county to help resolve problems and address residents' rights issues.

For more resources on residents’ rights or questions and concerns, contact your Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program:


Are You Up to Date on Your Vaccines?

As we head into the fall and winter months, cases of COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory viruses such as RSV and pneumonia are expected to rise. Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones, especially older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends adults 65 years and older stay up to date on flu and pneumonia vaccines, and everyone ages 6 months and older receive an updated COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a government agency that advises the CDC, recommends adults over the age of 60 get the RSV vaccine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year. 

Though the official COVID-19 Public Health Emergency has ended, most Americans, including Medicare beneficiaries, will still receive free COVID vaccines under their insurance plans. Flu, pneumonia, and RSV vaccines are also available at no cost through Medicare, Health Insurance Marketplace plans, and most private insurers.

For more vaccine information go to, or contact your healthcare provider, pharmacist, or local health department. For questions on Medicare coverage, contact SHIP or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). 


MDOA Announces Healthy Aging Grants

The Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA) is seeking applicants from non-profit organizations or county government for grants to provide home- and community-based services between December 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024.

The Healthy Aging & Supportive Communities Service Provision Grant, totaling $115,000, will be used to establish, expand, and enhance community-based programs that provide access to supportive services and neighbor-to-neighbor connections to build stronger and more resilient communities.

The Healthy Aging & Supportive Communities Technical Assistance Grant, totaling $145,000, will be used to provide coaching, consultation, and other technical assistance to improve and expand the operations of community-based programs.

"A longevity-ready and aging-friendly Maryland requires collaboration with a variety of community partners who offer services and supports to older adults that promote the ability to age where they live," said MDOA Secretary Carmel Roques. "These grant opportunities are helping us build bridges and mobilize action to creatively address some of the state's biggest challenges as our older population continues to grow."

If you are interested in applying for one of these funding opportunities or want to learn more, go to to register for an informational webinar to be held on Friday, October 6, 2023 from 2:00-3:00pm or to review the request the proposals.


Walking is Maryland's Official Exercise


Maryland Department of Aging employees are excited to join other state employees on October 4th for Walk Maryland Day, a celebration of our official state exercise!

Walk Maryland Day is celebrated statewide on the first Wednesday in October to kick off "Walktober," a month-long promotion of walking and how this simple physical activity provides health benefits to residents of all ages and abilities.

We encourage all Marylanders to take time on October 4th and throughout the month to take a walk where you live, work, or play. Click here to find a walking group near you.

Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet


Prescription drugs thrown in the trash can be retrieved to be abused or illegally sold, while drugs flushed down toilets can contaminate the water supply.

Help prevent and reduce medication misuse and improper disposal by cleaning out your medicine cabinet and taking unused or expired medications to a local prescription drug drop-off site during the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Take Back Day. Click here to learn more and find an authorized collection site near you. 

Aging is Wonderful and Remarkable


The Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA) invites you to celebrate Ageism Awareness Day on Oct. 7, 2023 and learn more about changing the narrative around aging and ending agism together. 

"It's time for a new way of thinking about longevity," said MDOA Secretary Carmel Roques. "Marylanders aren't just living longer, but are actively learning, volunteering, working, and contributing to society throughout their lifespans."

Learn more at

Don't Be Tricked This Halloween!


Trick or Treat! Halloween is just around the corner and we at the Department of Aging are wishing you plenty of treats, but no tricks. Just as many people pretend to be someone else on Halloween, so do fraudsters who will try to trick you into falling for some of the most common scams.

For instance, you may receive an email or text from a spoofed phone number that looks familiar, asking for your address to send you a Halloween Party invite or your credit card number to pay for a recent Amazon candy order. Or perhaps you are asked to click a link, open an attached file, or visit a website to see cute cats in costume. Don't be fooled! When in doubt, do not click, and do not give out your private or personal information. 

We wish you a Happy Halloween, and remind you that scams are tricky. Click here for a list of resources to help you identify and report suspected scams targeted at older adults.