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And what’s new for
the savvy senior


Life, love and law/PAGE 8



the limit /PAGE 10


Boldly going for gold /PAGE 4

COURIER photos/Steven Felschundneff

Claremont High School senior Spencer LaMott took up judo after being bullied in school. He recently received his black belt.


Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016



And what’s new for
the savvy senior


Teen judo champ tightens belt, prepares for college/4

by Sarah Torribio

An unlikely hero: attorney takes cases with a heart /8

by Mick Rhodes

Claremont native learns life really is a marathon/10

by Matthew Bramlett

Useful, money-saving technology for caregivers /14

by Pamela Bergman-Swartz


Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016

Teen judo champ tightens belt, prepares for college


n March 19, Claremont High
School senior Spencer LaMott
was promoted to first-degree
black belt by his senseis at Goltz Judo.
He has nine more black belts to go, but
the teen is well on his way to becoming a
judo master.

The belt switch-up, from brown to black, is just one
of many achievements Spencer, 18, has garnered in
his sport of choice.
He’s comported himself well in competition, taking
fourth place in his division in the 2015 Summer Nationals in Indiana last July. And earlier this year, he
was accepted to San Jose State University.
There he will participate in the college’s judo club,
which is among the most prestigious in the country.
His peers will be the crème de la crème of aspiring
judo champions, providing the perfect training ground
for a young man with his eyes on Olympic gold.
Spencer is determined to compete with the US
COURIER photo/Steven Felschundneff
Spencer LaMott and his friend Alejandro Perez practice throw downs during judo class in Claremont.


Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016


JUDO/continued from previous page

team in the 2020 Olympics in Toyo. It’s
a high aim, but one he’s willing to work
He wasn’t always this driven.
Spencer felt adrift when, at age 14,
he moved with his family from Montana to Claremont. His outsider status
made him an easy target.
“He was being taunted at school by a
couple of bullies,” his dad Paul LaMott
recalled. “They were relentless, and the
school was not mitigating the problem.”
The two youngest LaMott kids, now
10 and 11, were taking judo classes at
the Alexander Hughes Community
Center, which has served as Goltz
Judo’s dojo for the last 25 years. Mr.
LaMott decided it was time for Spencer
and his twin sister Mackenzi to give
judo a try.
At first Spencer’s parents had to
force him to go to class, but within
three months his attitude changed. “I
really picked it up. I wanted to do it for
the rest of my life,” he said.
The about-face was due to the quick
progress Spencer—who had previously
excelled at baseball, soccer, basketball
and track—made in the discipline.
“He’s a natural,” Goltz Judo founder
Gary Goltz said.
As Spencer gained confidence in his
judo skills, the bullies backed off. He
didn’t have to fight them. “They found
out I did judo,” he said simply.
The whole LaMott family has benefited from its association with Goltz
Judo. Mr. LaMott appreciates the familial atmosphere, as well as the life lessons senseis like Mr. Goltz and OJ
Soler have imparted to his kids.
“Respect for yourself and respect for
others—these are things taught through
the sport,” Mr. LaMott said.
JUDO/continues on the next page

COURIER photo/Steven Felschundneff
Spencer LaMott grapples with Alejandro Perez during a judo class last Wednesday at the Hughes Community Center. Spencer
recently earned his black belt in the discipline, which he started just four years ago.

Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016


JUDO/continued from previous page


ackenzi, now a green
belt, also came to love
judo. While she
doesn’t plan to pursue the martial
art with the same zeal as her
twin, she considers it a fun way
to stay in shape.
“You get to work out while learning selfdefense. Now, when I’m walking down the
street, I’m sizing people up. I was on the
wrestling team. I’m kind of a big deal,” she
All joking aside, Mackenzi has spent her
teen years knee-deep in extracurricular involvements. She hopes to one day pursue a
career in law enforcement. So does
Spencer—that’s one thing the very different siblings have in common. As preparation, she’s served as an Explorer with the
Claremont police. She also enjoys singing
and is currently on CHS’ all-girls choir.
Spencer is a different story. He is smart
and did well on his ACT, but isn’t a particularly inspired student. For him, life very
nearly begins and ends on the judo mat. He
JUDO/continues on the next page
COURIER photo/Steven Felschundneff

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Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016

JUDO/continued from previous page

will only spend more time there once he’s at San
Jose State.
Mackenzi will likely be attending college out
of state. She’s waiting to hear back from her two
preferred colleges, University of Hawaii and the
University of Arizona. It will, she admits, be
strange to live apart from Spencer.
“He’s my twin brother. We’ve been joined at
the hip since we were born,” she said.
Mackenzi says it’s been cool to see Spencer
transformed by his passion for judo.


t’s kind of made him more
confident and not as lazy. He
gets respect—people look
up to him as a role model,” she said. “I
have no doubt I will be traveling to
Tokyo in 2020 to see him compete in
the Olympics.”
Spencer, in turn, has high praise for his sister.
“She’s always been there for me. She’s always
helped me and done judo with me,” he said.
Mr. LaMott said that though there is some sibling rivalry, the twins are closer than they’d ever
admit. Still, he feels they are ready for some experiences of their own. “It’s just kind of a trip to
watch them grow up and be ready for that next
step,” he said.
Goltz student Inez Torres, 18, is another of
Spencer’s partners in crime.
“We’re acrobat buddies. We keep each other
high,” she quipped, referring to the fact that they
often throw one another while sparring.
Inez, who also received a first-degree black
belt on March 18, got involved in judo when she

was 12. She started taking classes at Goltz Judo
her sophomore year in high school. Now a business and finance major at Citrus College, she
calls the Hughes Center her second home. She’s
not aiming for the Olympics, but she feels she
struck gold when she happened upon judo.
“I love the philosophy. You never want to see
someone fall and not get back up,” she said.
“And for females, judo is really empowering. It
shows women can go much further than expected.”
Having gone much further than he expected,
Spencer has been getting in some extra practice
with his judo partner Arthur, a 20-year-old from a
nearby dojo who also plans to compete in the
Tokyo Olympics.
He has no illusions about the fact that he’s on a
challenging path. In fact, he had to have surgery
on his shoulder in October. “Injuries will happen
in judo,” he said, matter-of-factly.
Considering the high level of competition that
awaits Spencer as he moves onto the next level,
he’s often asked what he feels he needs to work
on most.
Judo, however, is not just a sport, but a way of
life. As judo founder Kano Jigoro declared, “It is
not important to be better than someone else, but
to be better than yesterday.”
Accordingly, Spencer’s answer is as holistic as
the philosophy of judo itself. ‘I want to improve
as a person in general,” he said. —Sarah Torribio
COURIER photo/Steven Felschundneff
Spencer gets a leg up from his friend Alejandro
Perez as he unhooks the protective mats used for
practicing throw-downs during judo practice.


Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016


An unlikely hero: Claremont attorney takes cases with a heart


s Bruce Springsteen wrote in his
song “Human Touch,” “You can’t
shut off the risk and pain...without losin’ the love that remains.” Claremont’s Scott Glovsky quoted this couplet
when asked what it was like to open himself up, both in his work and his life.

COURIER photo/Steven Felschundneff
Claremont attorney Scott Glovsky experienced a career transformation, going from being the person who
defends insurance companies to the one who helps people with their denial of coverage claims.

“You know, when you see inside someone’s heart,
you can’t not love them,” Mr. Glovsky explained.
“But we spend our lives trying to hide our hearts.”
This sentiment might not be remarkable coming
from a self-help guru, but Mr. Glovsky makes his living in a decidedly non-touchy-feely vocation. He is a
lawyer. Although he is a member of the California
Bar Association, he defies stereotypes.
“Basically, I was working to defend insurance companies that had screwed people,” Mr. Glovsky said,
when asked about his early career. “I was just defending their bad behavior. And that didn’t sit right with
me in any way. It wasn’t emotionally fulfilling. I didn’t like what I was doing. So once I paid off some
debt, I took a chance and went off to do what I had always wanted to do: help people.”
Mr. Glovsky—who lives in the Village with his
wife Mariana and their two sons, Xabi, 9, and
Matthew, 8—opened his own firm in 1999. The goal,
he said, was to defend the powerless.
And business was good. But as his practice and
reputation grew steadily, he began to feel as if he had
fallen short personally. He was productive, and by all
accounts successful, but the satisfaction was missing.
He would find himself at the breakfast table with his
family, “But I wouldn’t really be there,” Mr. Glovsky
explained. Worries about the day to come, office concerns and other preoccupations kept him from being
in the moment.
“I wasn’t there for my kids when I needed to be
there,” he said.
He soon realized he was just not a “super happy”
person. “I was so traumatized from childhood that I
always thought the world was going to cave in. And I
let my fears play a far too prominent role in my life.”
Fortuitously, it was around this time Mr. Glovsky
learned about the practice of psychodrama, a therapeutic process created by Romanian-born psychiatrist
Dr. Jacob Levy Moreno and further developed in collaboration with his wife, Zerka Moreno. Psychodrama
is an offshoot of psychotherapy, in which roles are reversed. People tell their stories and participants gain
true understanding and perspective of people through
their experiences. The technique was folded into the
legal realm in the 1970s, and was given an even
higher profile in 1994 when legendary lawyer Gerry
Spence created the Trial Lawyer’s College.
According to its mission statement, at the Trial
Lawyer’s College lawyers “are trained to help
achieve justice for individuals fighting corporate or
government oppression, particularly those individuals
who could be described as the poor, the injured, the
forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the
Mr. Glovsky was one of those early converts, first
attending Mr. Spence’s classes in 2006. The experience left him a changed man, and a changed attorney.
Through this new prism, his life began to change.
“It has helped me be present,” Mr. Glovsky related.
“And I’m happier, and a better husband, and a better
dad and a better lawyer.”
Some of his first experiences utilizing this new
technique involved children with autism who had
HAVING A HEART/next page

Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016

HAVING A HEART/from previous page

been denied treatment by health insurers.
He recalled the story of a client whose two-yearold child was continually spinning in small circles
and then bashing his head into the wall of his family’s
small apartment.
“To walk in there and see the utter chaos was devastating,” Mr. Glovsky said. “The child couldn’t sleep
for more than an hour or two at a time. The family
was just treading water trying to get through the next
few hours.”
Mr. Glovsky turned to his new training, spending
countless hours gaining the family’s trust and learning
their story.
The child was denied treatment by Kaiser for applied behavioral analysis, which, according to the
family, would give their son the best chance for a
“normal life.”
“It’s an early intervention for kids to minimize their
symptoms of autism. It’s indisputably the best treatment there is for kids with autism. And Kaiser had denied it to this young boy.” Mr. Glovsky said. “I try to
feel the feelings of what it would be like to not be
able to communicate, not to be able to express your
desires and your thoughts, and to live in your own
world and not be able to communicate.”
For Mr. Glovsky, the goal was “to understand the
feelings, so that we could help tell the story.”
Mr. Glovsky’s work paid off, with his client receiv-

ing a settlement insuring the youngster would receive
comprehensive, quality treatment for his disability.
“He improved dramatically, and ultimately enrolled
in a mainstream school,” he said.
The child is now 11 years old and is by all accounts
doing well.
“He’s able to talk and study and learn. If you met
him today, you would not even be able to tell anything was wrong,” Mr. Glovsky said.
After this case, word soon spread of Mr. Glovsky’s
acumen in fighting insurance company claim denials.
He took on other cases and won.
“I am most proud, by far, of the autism work I did,”
Mr. Glovsky said. “Ultimately, we got Kaiser and
Blue Cross to stop the practice of systemically denying applied behavioral analysis to kids with autism.”
Asked if it involved Kaiser’s begrudging compliance, or was perhaps a case of a health insurance
company having a heart, he was quick to respond.
“No. There’s no such thing as an insurance company having a heart,” Mr. Glovsky said. “That was a
six-year battle. Insurance companies only respond
when you have a vise around their neck.”
His discovery that a large health insurer operated in
this manner was no surprise.
“They are in the business of making money, and
there’s nothing wrong with making money,” Mr.
Glovsky said. “That’s fine. They need to make money
in the short term. Their executives need to make
money, otherwise they get fired. They need to in-


crease the stock value. So they’re always developing
systems that ultimately end up creating barriers to
people getting care. And it outrages me.”
When asked if this intense immersion in his clients’
often harrowing cases can sometimes take a toll on
his own health, Mr. Glovsky said yes.
“But it’s a tremendous gift to me,” he added.
“We’ve all had our traumas. I’m a product of a very
bitter divorce. I spent a lot of my childhood lonely
and depressed, feeling isolated and alone. And that
will just always be part of who I am. But through psychodrama and dealing with these issues, it’s helped
me understand them more, and become at peace with
them more.”
Mr. Glovsky recalled painful early childhood memories: “I was that kid hiding under the bed with my
sister when my dad would come to the door to take
us. He and my mom were there screaming at each
Through reenacting these painful events, he began
to see things from both parents’ perspectives.
“And I’ve come to be at peace with that and have
realized that my dad, he didn’t really have a father, so
he just didn’t have the tools,” Mr. Glovsky said. “It
wasn’t that he meant to create anything bad; he just
didn’t know any better. And my mom was pretty immature. She was growing up at the time and was
lonely and afraid, so they were just being the best
people that they knew how to be.”
As he has come to grips with and learned from his
own past, Mr. Glovsky’s present has also been transformed.


ne thing I believe is that as
people, our happiness
comes from our relationships with other people. The more we are
connected to other people, the happier we
will be,” he said. “I want to be 100 percent me and 100 percent real and in the
moment no matter what—with my clients,
with my family, with my friends, in the

“I think we all share the same emotions. We all feel
lonely. We’ve all had rejection, and we all feel that
we’re not good enough,” he added. “We all have the
same hopes and dreams for health for our families
and our kids. We want love and comfort and companionship. Part of my job is to really care about the people that I represent and to connect with them and
learn their stories, so that I can share their stories. If I
can share their true stories with the jury or the judge,
they’re going to love my clients the same way that I
love them.”
Mr. Glovsky’s work with the Trial Lawyer’s College and lessons learned through his own journey
with psychodrama have left him in an enviable spot: a
man with an interconnected life—family, professional
and social—and a healthy perspective on what’s truly
“I’m tremendously lucky to have a job where I get
to meet people and help them. I have a lot of blessings
in my life,” he said. “You have to care about your
clients. There’s no faking it. Caring is contagious.”
Mr. Glovsky has received numerous awards, including California Lawyer Magazine’s “California
Lawyer Attorney of the Year” and the Consumer Attorneys of California’s “Street Fighter of the Year”
Award. Mr. Glovsky’s podcast, “Trial Lawyer Talk,”
is available for free download on iTunes. His recently published book, Fighting Health Insurance
Denials: A Primer for Lawyers, is available on

—Mick Rhodes

Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016


Claremont native learns that life really is a marathon


aryn Spates has
marathon running down
to a science. It makes
sense, given she’s run 41 of
them so far and shows no signs
of stopping.

The Claremont native’s love for the
grueling glory of marathon running inspired her to write a book, 35 by 35: A
Runner’s Quest, which details her
journey to complete 35 marathons by
the time she turned 35.
“I was 32 at the time and I thought,
what can I do?” Ms. Spates, 36, said. “I
was like, I want to do 35 marathons by
the time I turn 35. And I want to write a
book about it, because I’ve always been
a writer and I love to write. So that really gave me this amazing quest.”
Ms. Spates, who works in film production in Los Angeles, naturally gravitated toward running, growing up in a
family of track athletes.
“My brothers ran and did cross-country,” Ms. Spates said. “But I never
thought I’d do anything longer than
It wasn’t until she went to college in
Colorado that she caught the marathon
bug while watching a friend run the
Denver Marathon. She signed up for
one herself, and the experience changed
her forever.
“When I was done I was like, I am
superhuman,” Ms. Spates said. “What
on earth can’t I do now? Are you kid-

Photo courtesy of Taryn Spates
Running marathons is a consuming passion for Claremonter Taryn Spates.

ding me? I’m still alive. This is amazing. I’m going to keep doing this.”
She participated in marathons nearly
every year, which continued after she
moved back to southern California and
found work. She met and eventually
married her husband, Marion, and
began taking care of her stepdaughter
Hannah. Both have been incredibly
supportive of her love of running.
Ms. Spates’ regimen in preparing for

a marathon may seem arduous to the average Joe. She begins 12 weeks in advance, and runs between 14 and 18
miles once a week to get her body in
shape. In the week before the marathon,
she cuts it down to an 8-mile tempo run.

On the Thursday before the event,
Ms. Spates runs six miles. Two days
before the marathon, she takes it easy, a
tactic she learned from an old coach.
By “taking it easy,” we mean doing
other sporty activities other than running.
MARATHON/next page

Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016

race,” Ms. Spates said, “and just kept going and, luckily, I made it.”
The discipline she learned from running has also
helped her in other facets of her life, from work to
“I sort of see everything as a bit of athletics in a
sense, because film is all about endurance,” she said.
“It’s long hours, it’s long everything—same thing
about running in marathons.”
And even though she reached her goal, she’s not
resting on her laurels. She’s still hitting the pavement,
having just completed the LA Marathon last month.
Even after over 40 marathons, Ms. Spates still feels
she has room for improvement.
Running has taken her all over the world—her favorite marathon was in Dublin, Ireland in 2003—and
she hopes to broaden her scope by participating in the
Jerusalem Marathon in 2017. The race is part of what
she says is her goal of spreading an encouraging message through the medium of marathon running.

Photo courtesy of Taryn Spates
Taryn Spates attributes her good health to a vegetarian diet and vigorous exercise.
MARATHON/from previous page

“I had a coach, a triathlon coach, a few years ago
who always wanted to take two days before the race
completely off,” she said. “If the race is on Sunday,
Friday I’ll swim or do a bike ride or something. But
really, no running.”
In what could be a surprise to some, Ms. Spates
wolfs down a popular breakfast item that settles her
stomach before running—pancakes.
“It’s good carbs and it’s nothing that detrimental to
the stomach because that’s really the game plan,” she
said. “I try to have as easy of a morning as possible
and to feel as comfortable as possible.”
Then, it’s on to the 26.2 miles of euphoria. Listening to her talk, one could easily notice the reverence
she has for the race and the process that comes with
“Halfway into the race, you’re just like, ‘I can’t believe it, here I am, it hurts and I still have a ways to
go. But then you’re like, this is the icing on the cake,”
Ms. Spates said. “It’s all the months of preparation,
and the race is just a celebration more than anything.”
Ms. Spates says she got the idea of writing a book
while taking time off from work to take care of her
stepdaughter. At that point, she had already run 21
marathons, and decided on 35 to coincide with her
looming 35th birthday.
But the then 32-year-old had a lot of catching up
“I needed to crank out 14 [marathons] in two and a
half years,” Ms. Spates said. “My average at that time
was about three to four per year, so I had to go from
three to four to five to six.”
By the time she reached her coveted 35th race—the
2014 San Francisco Marathon—she was spent.
“It really was pretty painful. It was one of my
slowest races,” Ms. Spates said. “But it was wonderful because you know, that’s what marathons are.
They hurt. And I had some great ones, but it’s like,
they’re all tough. And any way you slice it—at mile
23, it’s painful.”
Ms. Spates completed her 35th marathon just under
the radar, a couple months before her birthday. Despite her achievement, she remains humble.
“It’s rough, but it’s okay. I love and respect this


“There’s so much distress and so much nuttiness,
and I’d love to somehow just bring a different perspective of positivity,” Ms. Spates said. “If I can incorporate running and have it be my central theme,
then that’s good.”
She also participated in her first ultra-marathon in
Malibu in November—a 50k, which means over 31
miles (“That was pretty fun,” she says). She also has
plans to film a documentary sometime in the future.
No matter how many marathons she conquers, Ms.
Spates will always remain a student of the sport.
“We’re not all fast, by any means, but we’re made
to run,” she said. “And our bodies want to do that.
Sometimes it feels great, sometimes it feels terrible,
but it’s all part of it.”
You can buy 35 by 35: A Runner’s Quest on
Amazon or read her blog at
—Matthew Bramlett

Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016

City offers free used
motor oil recycling to
Claremont residents
The city of Claremont sanitation department provides a free curb-side used
motor oil and filter collection program.
Residents who change their vehicle oil
at home can take advantage of this convenient, appointment-based program to
responsibly dispose of used motor oil.
Used oil cans contain such contaminants as lead, magnesium, copper, zinc,
chromium, arsenic, chlorides, cadmium
and chlorinated compounds. Oil poured
down drains or onto the ground can
work its way into our ground and surface waters and cause serious pollution.

One gallon of used oil can foul a million gallons of drinking water.
To participate in this free and easy
program, contact the Community Services Department at (909) 399-5431 to
request supplies and coordinate a curbside pickup.

Wild West dinner and
dance at the Joslyn
The Claremont Senior Program is offering a fun-filled evening complete
with dinner, dancing and entertainment.

The event is sponsored by Inter Valley
Health Plan.
The dance will be held from 5 to 7
p.m. on Wednesday, April 13 at the
Joslyn Center. Tickets are $5 and must
be purchased in advance.
Register online at or call the Joslyn Center at
(909) 399-5488 for more information.

Locals Mingle & Munch
at Garner House
What are your interests? Traveling,
gardening, dining, outdoor activities,
just to name just a few?
Claremonters are invited to meet
people who share the same interests on
Friday, April 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the


Garner House, 840 N. Indian Hill
Blvd., Claremont.
The Mingle & Munch events are
held monthly and are open to those 50
years old and up. The cost is $10 per
person. To RSVP, call (909) 399-5488.

Get social, get walking
All levels of walkers are welcome to
join in the fun and explore Claremont
on foot. Claremont walking groups
meet on Tuesdays at 8 a.m. at the corner of Bonita and Yale Avenues to explore Village neighborhoods and the
Colleges. A second group meets on
Thursdays at 8 the Thompson
Creek Trail parking lot at 2471 N. Indian Hill Blvd.

Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016


Clearing up confusion about when to begin screening mammograms
by Paul Reisch, MD


here are five questions you should
ask your doctor before getting a

1. What is my risk for breast cancer? 2. Do I have
dense breasts? If so, what does that mean for me? 3.
What is 3D mammography and why is it better than 2D
mammography? 4. Is there any discomfort from the
mammogram that I should be aware of? 5. How much radiation will I be exposed to during my mammogram?
A recent recommendation by the US Preventive Services Task Force, which challenges the value of mammograms for women in their 40s, has garnered a lot of
attention. The task force emphasizes that routine screening before age 50 increases the risk of a false positive result, which could lead to unnecessary and often costly
procedures and treatment.

However, in fall 2015, the American Cancer Society
(ACS) revised its recommendations to state that women
aged 45 to 54 who are at average risk should undergo
yearly mammograms, and that women age 55 and older
should undergo mammograms every two years. The
ACS says women 40 to 44 should have the option to start
annual mammograms if they choose to do so.
No wonder women are confused. Delaying routine
screening mammograms until age 50 potentially puts
women at risk for late-stage detection of breast cancer
that would otherwise be discovered early with annual
mammograms beginning at age 40.
Mammography is still the only proven means for detecting breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable.
Mammography technology has improved vastly in recent years. In fact, several studies have shown that the
latest advancement, digital breast tomosynthesis (3D

mammography), improves cancer detection rate by 40
percent or more, and decreases recall rates by 30 percent
or more compared with conventional mammography.
While many breast care centers only offer 3D mammography to women with dense breast tissue, Pomona
Valley Hospital Medical Center is the only breast center
in the region to offer digital 3D mammography to all patients who visit the Pomona, Chino Hills and Claremont
locations. The hospital has also invested in a new technology that decreases the amount of radiation during a
3D mammogram.
PVHMC recommends starting annual screening
mammograms beginning at age 40. However, each patient is different and, ultimately, the decision on when to
begin screening mammograms is between the individual
patient and her doctor. To schedule a 3D mammography
appointment, call PVHMC at (909) 469-9395.

Claremont COURIER/Healthy Living 2016

Technology for caregivers


etween my husband and I, we have
eight grandchildren ranging in ages
from four months to 14 years old.
From the moment they were born, it seems
they all had a natural instinct to swipe their
pudgy little fingers across an iPad, iPod or
iPhone device.
All our grandchildren own an iPad, iPhone or iPod.
These devices have become the new source of entertainment for children and, in some cases, the virtual babysitter. One of the benefits of using these devices is the ability of FaceTime.
When you call someone using the FaceTime app, you
are able to see each other on the screens of your phones.


by Pamela Bergman-Swartz, transition living consultant/real estate professional

I recently FaceTimed my grandsons for the first time and
it was so wonderful to see their faces while I talked with
them. It made us feel much more connected, almost as if
I was visiting them in person.
I wish I had the capability to FaceTime my dad while
providing long-distance caregiving to him. If I wanted to
visit him, I had to purchase an airplane ticket, pay for a
rental car, food, time away from work and my family. While
visiting my dad back then, I didn’t have access to Wi-Fi
unless I traveled to a local Starbucks. I didn’t have Skype,
FaceTime or any fancy app on my phone to manage his
prescriptions or to locate caregiving resources. There were
many times I felt overwhelmed and isolated. Actually, it
felt like I was on another planet.
When I think of how much technology has changed over
the last 15 years, I wonder about all the ways today’s tech-

nology could have helped alleviate my stress and the overwhelming costs associated with caregiving. According to
the National Alliance on Caregiving and AARP statistics,
there are currently 43.5 million Americans providing unpaid caregiving to a loved one or aging parent. Technology today may improve how you spend time caregiving
for a loved one or aging parent.
FaceTime: FaceTime requires that both you and your
loved one have access to an iPhone, iPod or iPad. FaceTime is an app already installed on these devices. If your
loved one isn’t capable of using these devices, arrange for
a neighbor, friend, church member, senior volunteer or other family member to be there to accept a FaceTime call.
Schedule a weekly call or, if necessary, a particular time
every day to check in. Just seeing your loved one face-toface can bring comfort and the potential saving of your
time and thousands of dollars in travel to visit in person.
Skype: This requires that both parties have access to a
computer. You can sign up for a free account at
If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, this is a great way
of keeping in touch on a daily or weekly basis. You can
get a really good sense if something is wrong by seeing
the person live on the computer screen. My dad was famous for telling me, “I’m fine, I’m fine,” but when I could
hear how weak his voice was on the phone, or see him in
person, I could tell something was wrong. My dad was never a complainer, so seeing him or listening to his voice was
an indicator to me there was something going on medically.
Skype is also good if you are conducting interviews for
long distance caregivers or service providers.
Phone apps: Did you know there are apps on your mobile device that can help manage your loved one’s medications and vitals? You can also share information about
moods and send notes to family members, your caregiving team and doctors. If you are providing care coordination
for a loved one, take some time to check out your app store
on your mobile phone device. Go to the App Store and type
in the word, “caregiver.” I was surprised at how a simple
app can help you organize information all in one place. My financial advisor is located in
Orange County and due to distance and travel time, we
have been conducting our quarterly financial meetings via
Go To Meeting. During our meetings, via our computer
screens, I can see him and he can see me, as well as any
financial illustrations of my portfolio. Go To Meeting would
have been very helpful while I was overseeing my dad’s
finances and scheduling online meetings with his financial advisor. This also applies to meetings with doctors or
social workers.
Nanny cams: You may have heard about the Nanny
Cams to monitor in-home daycare providers for children.
The same applies for hiring in-home providers to care for
your aging parent. Many companies that install security
cameras can connect to your mobile device so you can
monitor your loved one while you are at work or caregiving
from another state. There are companies that provide inhome sensors to monitor the temperature in the kitchen
in the event a pot is left on the stove too long that could
possibly lead to a fire. There are also sensors that can detect if your loved one is spending too much time in one
area of the house, which could indicate a fall or that they
are having a mobility issue.
Personal emergency response systems: If you have an
aging parent who is prone to falls or needs medication reminders, I highly recommend a personal emergency response system. My dad had a Life Alert wrist band that
he would wear, which was connected through his telephone
line. There were a couple of times he had fallen in the yard.
When he pressed the button on his wrist band, it autodialed the monitoring company and they would contact local emergency services and a family member to ensure he
received immediate medical care. There is a set-up fee and
a monthly monitoring fee for this service.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the
advancement of technology in personal health and/or resources. Please email me at
or call me on my cell at (909) 636-2744 with questions.