House OKs Carson bill creating commission to recommend improvements for services for older Rhode Islanders


STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson creating a legislative commission to study the services and programs for older adults in Rhode Island and make recommendations for ways to improve and coordinate them.

“Rhode Island should invest much more than we do in services that enable people to age in place and safely remain in their communities. Those services are far more cost-efficient overall, and encourage an active, more fulfilling lifestyle for people as they age. Considering that nearly a quarter of our population is over 60, and Baby Boomers will continue to swell those ranks, now is the time,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport). “This commission will take a look at the services we have, how we could improve and better coordinate them and offer them to more individuals, where the gaps and needs are, and what we need to do to better enable our population, as we grow older, to safely remain in the community and lead full lives.”

Currently, more than 240,000 Rhode Island residents are age 60 or older. That number is expected to increase to almost 265,000 by 2040, constituting an increase of nearly 75 percent since 2010.

The House resolution (2023-H 5224A) calls for “a collaborative study of Rhode Island’s current services, and recommendations for potential initiatives that would help residents, agencies, providers, and the government to better assist the growing population of older adults in our state achieve well-being and maximum independence in ways that value, empower and engage them,” adding that such an effort is essential to the state’s future resilience and prosperity.

The 16-member commission is to include three members of the House of Representatives, two Rhode Island residents over the age of 65, three directors from the Rhode Island Senior Center Director’s Association, a community action program director from the Rhode Island Association of Community Action Agencies, a member of the Long Term Care Coordinating Council and a member of a Rhode Island organization representing adults with disabilities, all to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; and the directors of the Office of Healthy Aging, the Department of Health, AARP Rhode Island, Age-Friendly RI and the Senior Agenda Coalition of RI or their designees.

The resolution instructs the commission to study of key statistics about services for older adults in Rhode Island, examining strengths, vulnerabilities, and demographic and financial statistics; asses the current state, federal and local services currently available, as well as any duplication of services; recommend ways to coordinate services within agencies and focus on better service delivery, including housing options and various living arrangements, health status and health care resources; provide recommendations for the creation of a portal to coordinate aging services in employment, education, independent living, accessibility and advocacy, as well as local older adult centers and services;  provide recommendations on mental health, transportation, food access, and health care; provide recommendations for the funding of services through state, federal and private grants and for more efficient distribution and use of these dollars; and explore more regionalization of services.

Additionally, today the House passed a resolution sponsored by Representative Carson recognizing May as Older Americans Month. The Administration for Community Living, which leads the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month, has selected for 2023 a theme of “Aging Unbound,” intended as an opportunity to explore diverse aging experiences and discuss how communities can combat stereotypes. The intent is to promote flexible thinking about aging – and how we all benefit when older adults remain engaged, independent and included.