Cryan & Ruiz Want To Put Focus on Ill Effects of Social Isolation
Legislation Would Create Task Force to Examine Impact on the Elderly, Disabled, Mentally Ill and Military
Trenton – With more evidence of an increasing number of people experiencing the ill effects on their psychological and physical health because of social isolation, Senator Joe Cryan and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz have advanced legislation to study the impact on vulnerable populations.
The bill establishing the New Jersey Task Force to Prevent Loneliness and Social Isolation was approved yesterday by the Senate Health Committee.
“There is growing evidence of the psychological and physical effects of social isolation, especially for vulnerable populations,” said Senator Cryan. “Being cut off from interactions with other people and removed from the social activities of groups and organizations can have a damaging impact on the health and wellbeing of a growing number of people.”
The legislation, S-3692, would create a task force to study how isolation and loneliness impact the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill and members of the military – all groups susceptible to health problems caused by detachment from social interaction. The study would assess and report on the nature and frequency of social isolation and determine available resources for combatting the social isolation.
“This is a public health concern that needs greater understanding,” said Senator Ruiz. “There are a variety of social trends that appear to be contributing to this issue. This task force will help determine the causes and identify remedies that can be taken to address the problem so we can help these vulnerable groups before it becomes worse.”
Research published by the National Institute on Aging found about 28 percent of elderly adults — some 13.8 million nationwide — live alone, putting them at higher risks anxiety, depression, elevated blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and even death, the NIA noted.
The task force would include the Commissioner of Health, the Commissioner of Human Services, and nine public members: three appointed by the Governor, three appointed by the Senate President, and three appointed by the Assembly Speaker. The appointed members would be professionals working in or representing organizations and agencies that provide counseling, health care, mental health care, support care, or other social or daily living assistance to members of the vulnerable populations and their caregivers.