Watch Senator Rosen’s full remarks here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging focused on combating senior social isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) questioned medical experts, including Dr. Peter Reed, Professor of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and Director of the Sanford Center for Aging, how we can ensure that essential services are provided to seniors during the pandemic, as well as what steps need to be taken to overcome the digital divide faced by seniors.
“With the emergence of the novel coronavirus earlier this year, public health officials instructed Americans to stay home and social distance in order to prevent the spread of disease,” said Senator Rosen. “These guidelines have been especially important for adults age 65 and older. For Nevada, this means that approximately half a million elder Nevadans are now primarily homebound and at risk of experiencing social isolation.”
“Our state’s aging services organizations –Nevada’s Aging and Disability Services Division, the Sanford Center for Aging, and UNR’s Dementia Engagement, Education, and Research (DEER) Program – quickly came together to launch Nevada CAN, an integrated service response which is working to ensure that our state’s senior service providers can collaboratively support every older Nevadan who is now homebound,” Senator Rosen continued.
“How do you think these new relationships and integrated approach can be beneficial in the long term, after the coronavirus crisis abates, and how can we bolster the network’s success and export it to other states who can hopefully use our model?” Senator Rosen asked Dr. Reed.
“We know that seniors oftentimes have difficulty even using [tele-health] equipment because of the physical limitations of being a senior. What do you think are some of the new and innovative ways that we can help seniors use the [tele-health] technology, and how do we overcome those limitations?” Senator Rosen asked in a follow-up question.
BACKGROUND: According to a new finding from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, nearly one-quarter of older adults are socially isolated, and more than 40 percent report being lonely. During the COVID-19 pandemic, early studies have suggested that for some older adults, social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders are resulting in increased rates of social isolation and loneliness, which can have serious, even deadly, consequences for the health and well-being of our nation’s seniors.