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Caring for Elderly Parents? There’s an App for That

New InfoSAGE app will assist multiple family caregivers coordinate care of loved one
Caring for Elderly Parents? There’s an App for That

These days we rely on hand held devices to manage almost every aspect of our daily lives. Alarm clocks? Forget it. We wake up to the beeping of our phones. Maps? Gone. Siri can direct us anywhere we need to go. Whether we’re communicating with our loved ones, reading the daily news, or updating slides for our next meeting, we’re often doing it with the help of a mobile device.

Caring for our elders shouldn’t be any different. For this reason, researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife teamed up with affiliates from Harvard Medical School and several other organizations to create a senior care coordination app called InfoSAGE.

We caught up with Dr. Lew Lipsitz, Director of Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research to discuss the program, and the many ways that it can aid families and caretakers.

Q: What organizations were involved in the creation of the program?

Dr. Lew Lipsitz: InfoSAGE is a collaborative project that came together with the help of Hebrew SeniorLife, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Lasell Village and Cambridge Health Alliance, and is supported by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Q: What challenges were families facing that led to the need for a program like InfoSAGE?

Dr. Lew Lipsitz: Today’s families are incredibly busy. In many ways, modern technology has allowed for families to be constantly on the go, but still remain organized and connected. However, when it comes to caring for an elder, there seemed to be a deficit. Many families split the care of elders amongst several family members, friends and paid providers. Until now, there has been no easy way to coordinate care and keep everyone on the same page. What we heard from families is that they needed a single convenient tool to keep all members of the care team organized and informed.

Q: How does InfoSAGE connect family members, clinicians and seniors?

Dr. Lew Lipsitz: InfoSAGE is a simple app that everyone on the care team can download. It’s one central place where information on appointments, medications and all other care concerns can be located and updated. This way everyone has access to the same up-to-date information at all times. This empowers all members of the care team to make speedy, informed decisions when needed, and to communicate those decisions to all others involved in the elder’s care.

Q: What features does the InfoSAGE program provide?

Dr. Lew Lipsitz: InfoSAGE includes many features that help families stay organized. These include:

  • Medication Manager – a list of medications, descriptions and dosage information that can be accessed and updated by all users
  • Shared Task List – a place where families can request and share information about appointments, errands and to-do’s, and also delegate responsibilities
  • Search Function – a search tool which connects users to health resources and information specifically geared towards seniors and caregivers

Q: In some families, the senior being cared for is not comfortable using technology. Is InfoSAGE the right choice for those families?

Dr. Lew Lipsitz: Yes. The elder at the center of care, whom we call the “keystone,” does not have to engage with the app if they choose not to. If the “keystone” wishes to download the app and take an active role in the coordination of their care, they certainly can and we encourage that. However, if they are not comfortable with technology, the program still functions just as effectively.

Q: What does it cost to use InfoSAGE, and is it secure?

Dr. Lew Lipsitz: The InfoSAGE website and apps are free for anyone to use and download. The program allows for different levels of users, to ensure privacy for the keystone at the center of care. Certain member of the care team can be marked as “caregivers” giving them access to more sensitive information, while others can be marked as “participants” which allows for access only to necessary information. In addition, all information gathered by InfoSAGE for research purposes is de-identified.

Q: How can people sign up for an InfoSAGE account?

Dr. Lew Lipsitz: To sign up, please visit the InfoSAGE website (www.infosagehealth.org) where you can first register and then download the program to your smart phone or tablet.

Q: How can someone get involved in research regarding the InfoSAGE program?

Dr. Lew Lipsitz: We are always striving to make InfoSAGE even more useful for families and caregivers. To do so, we encourage users to participate in our research study. Participating is very easy. When signing up and creating an account simply click to “learn more.”

The Science Behind Aging: Learn more about Institute for Aging Research studies
IFAR’s multidisciplinary research facility promotes scientific investigation that considers the complex relationship between biological, social and psychological factors that influence how well we can all live as we grow older now and in the future. We focus our energy and resources on the specific challenges seniors face as they progress through the entire spectrum of aging.
See a list of current study opportunities at the Institute for Aging Research

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I am an only chid and have just recently had my 76 year old mother move onto our property in our guest house. 4 weeks later, my Dad who lives just down the road (LESS THAN 1/2 MILE) WAS diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer. My mother has to eat gluten free and dad doesn't have an appetite. Dad is unable to drive due to the heavy medications he is on and mom doesn't drive because 'i don't know the area and she is physically handicapped and uses a scooter to move around. I have home health nursing, an aid and physical therapy coming to the house for mom and hospice coming in to help with dad, but......i am extremely overwhelmed and am finding it hard to take care of my own self and my family responsibilities. i am a nurse and with all of this going on in the past 3 months, i haven't been able to work which also puts a financial stress on myself and my husband. Hes' been picking up extra shift, thank God . most times i feel like i just want to get on my motorcycle and go away for a few days to regroup, but that's not possibe.. i am an only child, (my sister passed away 15 years ago) so its just me. I am starting to feel resentment towards my Mom and that is not the way it should be. My Dad on the other hand is so easy going and Mom is just the opposite, needy, and almost seem jealous of the time I spend with my dying father as jealousy. How long can this go on before i snap and just run away. Not really but sometimes its gets waaaaayyyyyy overwhelming. How do I get through the daily dependence of two people, one does help himself as much as possible and the other seems to want my undivived attention for the samllest things, " I can't do that, would you get me a drink, and she is perfeckly capable of getting up and walking to the kitchen or use her walker to get it for herself." I don't mean to sound mean, but what is the purpose of havig OT and PT if you won't get up and do what you can for yourself, I refuse to enable her downfall, physically.
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