Rep. David Trone and Rep. Tim Walberg Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Social Isolation Among Seniors

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October 24, 2019
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hannah Muldavin, Hannah.Muldavin@mail.house.gov 

Rep. David Trone and Rep. Tim Walberg Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Social Isolation Among Seniors

Rep. Trone (MD-06) and Rep. Larson (CT-01) at Seniors Workshop in Montgomery County in March

 

Washington, DC - Today, Rep. David Trone (D-MD) and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced the Protecting Older Americans from Social Isolation Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill aimed at reducing social isolation among seniors. The bill would amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to address the growing negative effects that social isolation has on mental and physical health. The duo will seek to pass the bill when Congress takes up the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. 

Social isolation is a growing problem in the United States and specifically among older populations. About half of older adults feels isolated or lonely, and more than eight million older Americans currently experience social isolation. Studies show that loneliness can have significant negative health consequences, including dementia, depression, and impaired immunity at an early stage in life. 

The Protecting Older Americans from Social Isolation Act of 2019 will:

  • Support screening and health care services for the detection and prevention of social isolation 
  • Direct the Assistant Secretary for Aging to focus on social isolation through long-term planning and identify best practices to address social isolation
  • Allow states to pursue grant funding for projects that address social isolation and loneliness among older individuals

“During my first months in office I held a seniors workshop where I heard about the growing concern surrounding social isolation among our older population,” said Rep. David Trone (D-MD). “Combating loneliness among our nation’s seniors will not only improve mental and physical health outcomes, but it will also help our economy and community prosper. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that combats this trend and increases quality of life for seniors.”

“As the population of older Americans continues to expand, so too must our efforts to ensure they can age with dignity and peace of mind,” said Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI). “Our bill would place a stronger emphasis on addressing social isolation and the ramifications it poses for seniors’ health and well-being. I am pleased to work with Rep. Trone on this bipartisan legislation to strengthen the support available to older adults and provide them a better sense of connectedness to their community.”

“Social isolation and loneliness are two distinct, although related, conditions, and research shows that they have a greater adverse effect on health than better-known risk factors such as obesity and smoking,” said Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association. “APA applauds Congressman Trone and Congressman Walberg for introducing legislation to address this underrecognized public health issue.”

“Across the country, Area Agencies on Aging and their Aging Network partners are uniquely positioned to identify older adults at risk of and experiencing the negative consequences associated with the rising problem of social isolation and loneliness,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO of n4a. “The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) appreciates Congressman Trone and Congressman Walberg’s leadership in recognizing and supporting the pivotal role AAAs and the Aging Network serve in tackling the costly personal and societal consequences of a growing, but often silent, epidemic of isolation and loneliness among older Americans in their communities. n4a strongly supports this bill, The Protecting Older Americans from social Isolation Act of 2019, which would initiate a coordinated national campaign to increase awareness of and bolster the national and local response to social isolation and loneliness among older adults.”

“On behalf of Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness, including consumer groups, employers, health plans, health care innovators, and not-for-profit community-based organizations, we applaud Representative Trone and Walberg for their leadership in supporting older Americans who are social isolated or lonely, or both,” said Andrew MacPherson, Director of the Coalition to End Social & Loneliness. “With over 40 million older adults suffering from chronic loneliness in the United States, the time is now to provide support for the aging network to identify and assist individuals who are suffering. We look forward to working with Representative Trone and Walberg to swiftly pass this critical legislation.”

You can read the full bill text here.

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. In March, Trone held a workshop and resource fair for seniors with Rep. John Larson (CT-01) to discuss challenges and solutions to some of seniors’ top priorities. Trone serves on the Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees, where he is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research. 

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