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Arizonan Testifies At US Senate Committee On Aging And Isolation

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 11:11am
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021 - 12:08pm

Social isolation and loneliness can put older adults at risk for several chronic conditions. In fact, prolonged isolation is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to the AARP Foundation.

Thursday morning, members of the U.S. Senate Aging Committee started looking at ways to deal with this issue. One witness was from Arizona.

W. Mark Clark is the President and CEO of the Pima Council on Aging. He testified before the committee and talked about what factors contribute to social isolation and loneliness.

"People retiring from other states, move to communities like ours and leave behind their families, friends and support systems," Clark said. "We have become, in a very real sense, where the garage door is the front door."

Other challenges, he said, include: "Changes to mobility, cognitive ability or health status can cause an individual to hold back from previously enjoyed social activities. Older adults in rural areas who can no longer driver are at incredible risk of physical and social isolation unless transportation options are available."

Clark also said language barriers and acting as caregiver can lead to isolation.