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Monday, May 22, 2017

(l-r) Simcha and Pesh Katz, Fayge and Michael Novogroder (Credit: Bracha Schwartz)

Robert Mytelka, founder of BeThere24, explaining how the app and the sensors work together (Credit: Bracha Schwartz)

The old saying goes, “One parent can take care of 10 children but 10 children can’t take care of one parent.” A group of Teaneck residents has found an ideal solution to the issue of caring for one’s aging parent: FountainView at College Road, a senior living community in Monsey. On May 10, Michael and Fayge Novogroder, along with several other couples, hosted an informational presentation to show others why they should consider Fountainview for their aging parents.

“FountainView is a warm, caring place and I wanted to show my appreciation for what they do for my mother,” Fayge said before the presentation. Her parents had moved to FountainView together and her mother stayed after her father passed away. “She’s so busy now, I have to make an appointment to see her,” she said, incredulous but pleased. “My mother made friends, she goes to the rabbi’s classes and she has entertainment. FountainView maintains a residential atmosphere where you can retain your independence.”

Simcha Katz, one of the evening’s hosts, said his mother has been there for two years. “Would I do it again, knowing what I know now?” he asked. “Absolutely.”

FountainView is a continuing-care rental community with a host of services and amenities on a 10-acre campus. Three buildings for independent living have one- and two-bedroom apartments; the Springs for assistive living has studio and one-bedroom apartments. Although all the apartments have full kitchens, Glatt kosher meals, including a full Shabbat dinner and lunch, are provided in the bistro café (lunch) and dining room. Residents of the Springs can contract for additional help, from hourly to 24/7. A fitness center and indoor pool help residents keep up their strength. Buses take residents to supermarkets, and transportation is provided for doctor appointments. Trips to places like Empire Casino in Yonkers, the Bronx Botanical Gardens and Ellis Island keep residents engaged. Families who want to visit for Shabbat can stay in guest accommodations.

Rav Yerachmiel Seplowitz told the dozens who attended that FountainView takes care of their parents’ spiritual needs as well as their physical ones. If your life revolves around minyanim, Shabbat and Yom Tov, observance becomes difficult when your mobility is impaired, he noted. FountainView has three minyanim each day on the premises; a morning kollel for residents and men who come there to learn; and shiurim and classes, including a women’s Halacha class. He told the story of a man who was so happy to be named Chatan Bereishit; it was another chance for him to shine and be the center of attention. There is a Friday night women’s Kiddush after davening with cake, wine and grape juice. Rav Seplowitz talked about a woman who joined him for a scotch at Kiddush each week until she passed away at 100 years old. At one point, word had gotten out and another woman wanted to join them, only she asked for bourbon. So he bought bourbon. After she passed away, her bemused son said she had never before had bourbon in her life!

The caring and camaraderie help the residents feel like they are at home, Rav Seplowitz said. Moving is a challenge; some have an easier time adjusting than others. His own mother-in-law lived at FountainView for six and a half years. He told the story of a resident whose eyesight, hearing and memory were diminished, and then this resident broke his hip and had to go to rehab. When he was recovering, but not flourishing, his daughter suggested they take him back to FountainView to revive his flagging spirits. He immediately remembered and said, “This is my home.”

The safety of elderly parents is a primary concern, no matter where they are living. FountainView has introduced BeThere24, a system residents can purchase monthly that monitors their movements and sends alerts when a lack of movement or fall is detected. Founder Robert Mytelka explained that BeThere24 uses strategically placed motion and pressure sensors to develop an algorithm for an individual and can tell when there is a change in behavior patterns.

“I had friends whose parents were falling and they refused to wear pendants or wristbands linked to a monitoring system,” Mytelka said.

The Monsey businessman, who developed the product with two others from Monsey and an Israeli company, said it was made mainly for people who live alone. The next enhancement will be a bracelet a caregiver can wear to block the system so it does not include that person’s movements. The system can also be set for certain time periods so a senior who is only alone at night can have the system set to operate then, either in the whole house or just one area, like the bedroom and bathroom. In a follow up email, Mytelka wrote that he got a psak from Rabbi Moshe Heinemann of Baltimore that the system can be used on Shabbat and that caregivers and family are permitted to move within the space being monitored when visiting. BeThere24 is a retail product anyone can order for a monthly fee.

For more information about FountainView, visit http://fountainview.org. For information about BeThere24, visit 

www.bethere24.com.

By Bracha Schwartz