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Flushing Hospital Medical Center improves quality of life for aging populations

Social isolation and loneliness are serious public health concerns for our aging population, often connected to cardiovascular, autoimmune, neurocognitive and mental health problems. In 2016, the Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Psychiatry and Addiction Services department and the New York City Department for the Aging collaborated to secure a $1.5 million, five-year Partnership Innovation for Older Adults grant from the Office of Mental Health to serve the community’s aging population.

FHMC’s Successful Aging for Increased Longevity project aimed to provide integrated, destigmatized mental health services to an underserved older population. For this program, two full-time Chinese-speaking clinicians and a half-time coordinator were placed in a Chinese-speaking Older Adult Center in Flushing, Queens. SAIL components include screenings, assessments and engagement activities such as English literacy, using gadgets, dance and movement, Fitbits, a health literacy curriculum and onsite counseling.

This initiative supported the following New York State Prevention Agenda priority areas:

  • preventing chronic diseases by increasing skills and knowledge to support healthy food and beverage choices, increasing physical activity and improving self-management skills;
  • promoting well-being and preventing mental illness, substance abuse, major depressive disorders and suicides; and
  • promoting well-being across the lifespan.

The program reached 236 participants; 1,490 Patient Health Questionnaire-9s and 1,461 Generalized Anxiety Disorder Screener-7s were completed: 55% scored 5 to 9; 31% >10. A score of >5 is needed for admission to this program.

Of 32 participants in the Fitbit program, a majority felt the device was very helpful; 37.5% said the sleep component was helpful; 75% reported that step counts raised their activity awareness; 50% appreciated the group.

For more information, contact Ira Frankel, PhD, administrator, Psychiatry and Addiction Services, at 718.670.4416 or ifrankel.flushing@jhmc.org.