July 19, 2019

Cardin, Cramer, Rosen Call for Strengthening Health Services for Holocaust Survivors

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) have introduced legislation that would prioritize health care and nutrition services for Holocaust survivors, increasing the likelihood they could continue to live in their own homes rather than be forced into nursing homes or assisted living facilities. The bill, S. 2179, the Trauma-Informed Modernization of Eldercare for Holocaust Survivors Act or the “TIME for Holocaust Survivors Act” would incorporate several provisions into the Older Americans Act (OAA) to ensure that Holocaust survivors have coordinated, trauma-informed care and services particularly tailored their needs.  

“Holocaust survivors came to the United States seeking refuge from unimaginable horrors. They have lived their lives here and enriched our nation. With an average age of 85, we have an obligation to provide Holocaust survivors the community support and special services they need to live out their final days,” said Senator Cardin.

“Those who sought shelter in our country after the unspeakable tragedy of the holocaust deserve better assistance, not worse. This legislation is a productive step toward helping survivors receive the quality care they need,” Senator Cramer said.

“Never Again means never forgetting those who survived the horrors of the Holocaust. This bipartisan bill will make important updates to the Older Americans Act to ensure that Holocaust survivors are not left behind. Integrating trauma-informed practices into these programs will improve care for seniors who have had traumatic experiences, the effects of which can resurface when they age,” said Senator Rosen. 

“We are proud to support this bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Cardin, Cramer, and Rosen that will ensure that the 80,000 aging Holocaust survivors living in the United States today, all with unique traumas and health concerns, have access to the care and services they need,” said William Daroff, The Jewish Federations of North America’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy. “As a key priority for Jewish Federations and the hundreds of organizations from every state in the country that support this initiative, we urge every Senator to cosponsor the TIME for Holocaust Survivors Act, and work with Senate leadership to pass this bill soon.” JFNA and more than 300 national, state and local organizations have expressed their support for the TIME for Holocaust Survivors Act.

There are about 80,000 survivors of the Holocaust living in the United States and approximately 25% live at or below the poverty line. Heart conditions, bone and feet issues, and dental problems are common for this demographic, as are depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Many are isolated from their communities, and enduring the challenges of aging alone, often without family to care for them.

Holocaust survivors continue to live with the unique mental and physical scars of the unconscionable trauma caused by the Holocaust. Aging Holocaust survivors have needs similar to those of other older Americans, but the sights, sounds, and smells of institutionalized settings, such as confined spaces or restrictions on food, can induce panic, anxiety, and re-traumatization as a result of their experiences from the Holocaust.

Text of the TIME for Holocaust Survivors Act (S. 2179) can be found here. The bill would:

  • Include “older individuals who are Holocaust survivors” as one of the designated groups that have the greatest social need within the Older Americans Act;
  • Designate a portfolio within the Administration on Community Living to have responsibility for Holocaust survivor issues;
  • Promote technical assistance and training for nonprofits that serve older adults experiencing the long-term and adverse consequences of trauma; and
  • Ensure that the providers of nutrition services through the Older Americans Act can meet the special dietary needs of Holocaust survivors and others when there is sufficient demand in a community. 

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