Foreign entities are not eligible to compete for, or receive, awards made under this announcement.
The Administration on Aging (AoA), a division of the Administration for Community Living (ACL), working with a national network of state, tribal, and local agencies, is committed to ensuring that current and future older adults have the information, tools, and services they need to remain healthy and the support they need to remain independent and active for as long as possible. Recently much has been learned about the individual and societal impact of social isolation and loneliness. Based on current estimates, isolation is a social problem that impacts as many as 17% of older Americans. A large body of literature indicates that social isolation and loneliness have negative impacts on health of older adults and is associated with an increased risk of dying. According to a report by the AARP Public Policy Institute and Stanford University, social isolation among people with Medicare is associated with an estimated $6.7 billion in additional Medicare spending every year. That’s comparable to additional program spending for people with chronic conditions like high blood pressure. Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions. A recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report substantial evidence indicates that social isolation, loneliness, and other indicators of social connection have associations with major forms of physical, cognitive, and psychological morbidity; health-related behaviors; and health-related quality of life. In fact, a Brigham Young University study found that prolonged social isolation is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is more harmful than obesity. But research also suggests that remaining socially engaged improves the quality of life for older adults and is associated with better health.
Evidence suggests that social engagement helps maintain thinking skills and slows cognitive decline in later life.
Older adults report feeling healthier and happier when they participate in what they see as meaningful activities, like volunteering in their communities.
Seniors who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic wellbeing.
Participation in intergenerational engagement programs helps older adults feel more generative.
Participation in professionally conducted community-based cultural programs can help older adults improve their quality of life.
Given what is known of the benefits of social engagement, AoA is interested in expanding the reach of the aging network to more effectively assist seniors to remain socially engaged and active. AoA has a long history of supporting projects that seek to enhance the lives of older adults through a variety of activities, including volunteerism, physical activity, and intergenerational efforts. Recently, AoA has supported an Engagement and Older Adults Resource Center that has provided information and resources to the aging network on myriad ways older adults can engage through a variety of interventions, including volunteer opportunities, intergenerational interactions, technology, and creative pursuits. AoA is interested in taking a more targeted approach with this funding opportunity.
Purpose, Objectives, and Desired Outcomes
AoA is seeking to fund one cooperative agreement to provide national technical assistance and serve as a repository for innovations that can be successfully replicated at the local level. While the previous effort looked at social engagement from a broad perspective this funding announcement seeks applications that will focus on specific targeted intervention areas. Target areas could include:
Community involvement: Examples - Senior centers, recreational programs, senior housing interventions
Technology: Examples - Virtual assistant technologies, online and digital approaches
Intergenerational: Examples - Educational interventions, mentoring, co-located efforts
Volunteerism: Examples - Nutrition and transportation programs, friendly visiting, telephone based support
The sample target areas provided above are not meant to be exhaustive. Applicants are free to suggest other target intervention areas for consideration. Applicants should clearly describe their proposed approaches for achieving the following broad objectives:
To expand the reach of the aging network to more effectively assist older adults to remain socially engaged and active utilizing the identified intervention.
To increase the aging network’s ability to tailor the identified social engagement intervention to meet the diverse needs of older adults, including the consideration of cultural and ability factors.
To design and implement a training and technical assistance strategy to help inform the aging network about ways to apply the identified social engagement strategy.
To achieve these objectives, the successful applicant will be expected to:
Examine program development and technical support needs of aging network organizations to determine priorities for technical assistance.
Engage organizations that are implementing interventions in the targeted focus area to identify successful programs and strategies that can be shared with the aging network.
Propose approaches for the identification, synthesis and dissemination of innovative social engagements, practices, and programming in the target focus area (e.g., national searchable database, website, e-newsletters, webinars).
Provide ongoing training and technical assistance to the aging network on innovative social engagement approaches and programming in the identified focus area. Possible approaches could include telephone and email consultation, links to experts, webinars, conference presentations, and other means identified by the applicant.
Develop and implement efforts that raises awareness and educates older adults and their caregivers about the benefits of the targeted focus area to combat social isolation and loneliness. Any outreach materials developed should be made available to other ACL-supported projects like the Eldercare Locator and shared with the aging network.
Consider the needs and concerns of low-income, rural, minorities, and other underserved populations.
Explore opportunities to coordinate and collaborate with other ACL-funded resource centers that provide technical assistance and capacity building to the aging network.
Performance Measurement, Outcomes and Evaluation
Performance measurement is an important component of any new project and allows the project administrators to understand both project strengths and weaknesses and to ensure continuous improvement. Applicants to this funding opportunity should include a comprehensive plan for evaluating and reporting project performance and effectiveness. This plan should include measurable outcomes that demonstrate the benefit of the targeted social isolation intervention. Applications should include a description of expected sources for output and outcome data and the methods for how such data will be gathered, analyzed and reported.
Collaboration and Partnerships
To most effectively accomplish the objectives outlined in this FOA, AoA anticipates that the successful application will demonstrate the commitment to collaborating with other organizations with diverse areas of expertise to further advance the targeted social isolation target area. Applications should describe the partner organizations and the role of each in the planning, development and implementation of the proposed project. Letters of support from partnering organizations should be included as part of the application package and should reflect the unique contributions of each entity. Letters of support will be reviewed and evaluated to determine likely value of each named partner and its relative impact to the proposed project.
NOTE: This Funding Opportunity Announcement is not intended to fund individual social isolation projects at a particular site or location.
Ortiz, H. (2011). Crossing New Frontiers: Benefits Access among Isolated Seniors. National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment (NCBOE). National Council on Aging. Retrieved from www.CenterforBenefits.org
Lynda Flowers, et al., “Medicare Spends More on Socially Isolated Older Adults,” AARP Public Policy Institute Insight on the Issues 125 (2017).
National Institute on Aging, “Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks,” April 23, 2019. https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-p…
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Opportunities for the Health Care System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Testimony before the US Senate Aging Committee. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D. April 27, 2017. https://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SCA_Holt_04_27_17.pdf.
The Brain and Social Connectedness: GCBH Recommendations on Social Engagement and Brain Health https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/health/brain_health/2017/02/gcbh-…
Corporation for National & Community Service - The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, April 2007
Senior Center Fact Sheet. NCOA. 2015. https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/FactSheet_SeniorCenters.pdf
Tara L. Gruenewald, Elizabeth K. Tanner, Linda P. Fried, Michelle C. Carlson, Qian-Li Xue, Jeanine M. Parisi, George W. Rebok, Lisa M. Yarnell, Teresa E. Seeman; The Baltimore Experience Corps Trial: Enhancing Generativity via Intergenerational Activity Engagement in Later Life. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2016; 71 (4): 661-670. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbv005
Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD, Susan Perlstein, MSW, Jeff Chapline, MFA, Jeanne Kelly, MM, Kimberly M. Firth, PhD, Samuel Simmens, PhD; The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on the Physical Health, Mental Health, and Social Functioning of Older Adults. Gerontologist 2006; 46 (6): 726-734. doi: 10.1093/geront/46.6.726