WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) on Thursday introduced the Addressing Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults (SILO) Act, legislation to establish a grant and training program for community-based organizations working to address social isolation among older adults and adults with disabilities – two populations at greater risk for loneliness.

"There are tons of local organizations already doing the important work of helping older Americans and adults with disabilities - two gorups most at-risk for social isolation - combat loneliness, and we should be in the business of making sure these programs reach as many people as possible. This legislation would create a new grant program dedicated to supporting community-based organizations focused on helping their neightbors feel a little less alone. It's a simple way the federal government can be a part of the solution," said Murphy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us all just how devastating social isolation can be for our mental and physical health,” said Casey.However, for older Americans and people with disabilities, isolation and loneliness have long been serious issues. The Addressing SILO Act will fund new programs to improve social connection and reduce loneliness among older Americans and help ensure that Americans do not have to spend their golden years isolated and alone.”

More than 1 in 3 adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and forty percent of adults with a disability reporting feeling lonely or socially isolated. This comes with serious health impacts, including an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, by 29% and 32% respectively, and an increased risk of developing dementia by approximately 50% in older adults. Social isolation among older adults accounts for an estimated $6.7 billion in annual excess Medicare spending.

Specifically, the Addressing SILO Act provides $62.5 million in annual funding to support community-based organizations’ work to:

  • Train their staff to better address and prevent social isolation and loneliness;
  • Conduct outreach to individuals at-risk for social isolation and loneliness;?
  • Develop community-based interventions to mitigate social isolation and loneliness;?
  • Connect at-risk individuals with social and clinical supports; and??
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the programs developed and implemented through the grants.??

Earlier this year, Murphy introduced the National Strategy for Social Connection Act, which would create an Office of Social Connection Policy within the White House to work across federal agencies to develop effective strategies for improved social infrastructure and issue national guidelines for social connection similar to existing guidelines on sleep, nutrition, and physical activity. It would also provide funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better understand the epidemic of social isolation and loneliness.

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