Harder Amendment to Improve Care for Older Americans Passes Key Committee Hurdle

September 18, 2019
Press Release
Legislation will Guarantee Family Caregivers Have Larger Voice

WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) today passed an amendment through the House Education and Labor Committee to ensure caregivers have a voice in advocating for the seniors they care for as the committee considers legislation to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA). As baby boomers age, more and more families in the Central Valley are becoming responsible for taking care of their loved ones. Rep. Harder’s amendment adds caregivers’ voices into the conversation surrounding one of the important issues seniors face, social isolation. Older Americans are the most likely people in society to face social isolation as the result of retirement, loss of a spouse, or decreased mobility or transportation. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), social isolation contributes to a variety of physical and mental health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death. 

Click the Link above to Watch Rep. Harder’s Speech

“When I delivered Meals on Wheels to older folks in the Central Valley in high school, I learned that we were bringing more than just food to seniors – we were also bringing some of the only human contact a lot of these folks got on a daily basis,” said Rep. Harder. “And this isn’t just touchy-feely – there is hard scientific evidence that social isolation causes a bunch of different health problems and can even lead to an early death. My amendment will help us find better strategies to respond to social isolation and give older Americans – and their family caregivers – a greater opportunity to age in a healthy way.”

The OAA reauthorization bill supports a variety of important programs that help our seniors, including Meals on Wheels and adding a new focus on homelessness prevention. This year’s reauthorization includes the formation of a new advisory committee to combat social isolation.

The advisory committee will be responsible for making recommendations to the Assistant Secretary for Aging and to Congress on how to better address the problem. Rep. Harder’s amendment will guarantee that family or professional caregivers’ voices are represented on the council and in making recommendations.