The Shaky Times
-- Online Edition --
December 2017
Here's what's inside:
Carol Fisher discusses falling and fall prevention

Abraham Raja reminds us the library is closed in December

Member Profiles spotlights Rhona Watenick,
writer of the RonnieGrams

Norm Bardsley writes on Parkinson's and Public Policy

An exciting update from "Dance Moves Me!"

Danish Research on Sleep and links to Parkinson's

The next meeting, announcements and how to reach us
Falling is Dangerous - and Often Preventable

By Carol Fisher 

"Fall seven times, get up eight." Japanese Proverb
When you have Parkinson ’ s disease (PD), chances are good that sooner or later you will have a fall. This is true for the aging population in general, but the stakes are higher with PD.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that at least half of senior Americans who fall don ’ t tell anyone either because they are embarrassed or because they fear losing their independence.
There certainly are classes out there that teach you how to fall well. People with PD who tend to fall can learn techniques that allow them to fall without hurting themselves. That can work pretty well in open spac- es, but the problem always comes when falling into a hard counter or piece of furniture or something else.
The best plan is to do what you can to increase your strength, mobility and awareness so that falls can be pre- vented. Dr. Elizabeth Phelan, a geriatrician and associate professor of medicine at the University of Wash- ington says: “ The single most effective prevention strategy is the practice of strength - balance exercises like Tai Chi and the development of muscle strength. ”
Dr. Phelan also recommends that home environments be assessed and modified as people age. Make sure your home has good lighting. Install handrails along staircases. Ensure that steps have clearly marked edg- es. Remove throw rugs and area rugs. In the bathroom, install grab bars near tubs and showers and around commodes. Equip your toilet with a raised seat. Use a tub transfer bench. Showers that are flush with the floor can also help.
Some combinations of drugs can cause dizziness, confusion, balance problems or a drop in blood pressure. Discuss your prescriptions with your doctor to avoid falls caused by harmful drug interactions.
Beyond all that is the issue of awareness . Be present with your body. Note how you ’ re moving. Take the time to feel your feet on the ground. Make sure you ’ re balanced and stable before you start to walk or turn. Then decide the best way to move safely. When you are moving, your mind should be on the movement — not on the snack you are going to get from the fridge, or your grocery list, or what someone just said to you on the phone. Multi - tasking while you move can increase the risk that you ’ ll fall.
With presence of mind and a solid toolkit of strategies, you can prevent falls and stay safe. 

Carol Fisher is a registered Yoga Instructor and a certified Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery Instructor. She has been teaching movement to people with PD for the past eight years, and has worked extensively with John Argue. She can be reached by phone at 925-566-4181 or via email at Visit her website at 
The PNMD Library
The library will be closed during the December Holiday Party. Abraham will have new titles and handouts available starting with the January meeting.

Abraham Raja, the PNMD librarian is always on the lookout for new books, periodicals, medical journals and company pamphlets that provide information and insights into Parkinson's Disease, medical research on the disease and other related topics.

The library is open for business at the monthly meeting. Peruse the free booklets, brochures and other items of interest. Check out a book. Have you read a book on Parkinson’s that others may like? Give Abraham the name and it will be added to the library. Donate books of interest. Sharing helps everyone.  
Book Review
We didn't have anyone do a book review this month. If you would like to read a book from the PNMD library or even a Parkinson's related book that might not be in the library, please let us know. (You can email Howard at love hearing what people like and don't like about our titles. It's also a great service to our members to provide insights on our books.
Member Profiles
Rhona Wanetick, writer of the RonnieGrams
Rhona Wanetick was born in Manhattan New York. Known to her friends as Ronnie, she lived in the Bronx, Long island and in White Plains during her high school years.

Ronnie met her first husband while they we're in high school. He won the New York state science fair and Ronnie was very impressed. They eloped during their first semester at college. They both went on to complete masters degrees and stay married for 30 years!

Ronnie met her current husband at the UC Berkeley summer camp for families. He was a camp doctor for the week they were there. Fifteen years later, Ronnie was going through a divorce. She reconnected with the doctor and this time they got married!

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007, Ronnie joined PNMD right away. She feels knowledge is essential to make the best decisions for yourself. She was able to learn more about the disease through the organization and it gave her support.

Research trials and studies have been a big part of Ronnie’s life since her diagnosis. She was chosen to be a Parkinson’s Disease Foundation research advocate in 2010, one of the 50 selected. In 2015, Ronnie and another researcher worked to create an in-house computer program to help with depression.

Ronnie has also served PNMD as both Membership Chair and as co-President. She loves meeting the members and helping to further the mission of PNMD. You hear from her today through RonnieGrams, her emails concerning events and information relevant to people with Parkinson’s that go out to the PNMD membership.

Parkinson's and Public Policy
by Norman Bardsley

Decisions that are being made in Washington could have substantial impact on the Parkinson ’ s community. For example, those of us with large medical expenses will no longer be able to deduct any of them on our tax returns. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that passage of the Tax Reform Act could lead to cuts of $25 billion in Medicare in the next year. That's almost $500 for every Medicare recipient. In the budget for 2018 proposed by the President, funding for the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research, would be cut by 20%.
For those in our community that are not yet on Medicare, but rely on Covered California for health insur- ance, the situation is mixed. Some of the President ’ s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act were suc- cessful, but others were not. The premiums seem to be much higher, but so are the tax credits. So if you qualify for the tax credits, you may be okay; otherwise, you may be paying more. You should check the Covered California web site ( and ask for help if you need it.
Until last year our interests were represented in Washington by the Parkinson ’ s Action Network (PAN), and Bill Clinch kept us informed of their activities. Last year PAN became part of the Michael J. Fox Founda- tion (MJFF) and they have continued the good work. For further information, see the blogs on their web site at
MJFF's Vice-President for Public Policy is Ted Thompson. We need to tell him about our concerns, and we should help him by raising our voices with our representatives. In the past year over 20,000 Parkinsonians have lobbied Congress, and our voices have been influential. So if you are worried about your health insurance, research on Parkinson ’ s disease, or any other topic that is influenced by politicians in DC or Sac- ramento, share your concerns with a board member or contact Norman Bardsley, by email at or by leaving a message at 925 - 831 - 9940.
Norman Bardsley is the leader of PNMD ’ s support group in Pleasanton. He is a member of the PNMD Board. 

"Dance Moves Me!" for Parkinson's Holiday Schedule and a special class January 2nd
Dance Moves Me! classes are canceled from now until the New Year. Classes will resume on Tuesday, January 2nd.
For our first class in the New Year, we will welcome special guest artist, Lieven Debrauwer, from Bel- gium. Lieven is an award winning film maker, whose film Pauline and Paulette won an award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. In addition, Lieven is a joyful cabaret artist, who sings and entertains audiences throughout Europe. I am excited that Lieven will join us on January 2 nd , to welcome the New Year and lead us in some vocal exercises and songs. Be prepared to have fun and be entertained! We are also plan- ning to show his movie “Pauline & Paulette” after class.
So mark your calendars and be sure to join us on January 2 nd 2018! You won't want to miss this special class! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season. I look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
Keep moving mindfully and with joy -
Debbie Sternbach
Interrupted Sleep Patterns May Be a Precursor to Parkinson's Disease
By Stephen Gadd SOURCE

Danish researchers believe they have found a link between people with a particular sleep disorder during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase and Parkinson ’ s disease. Sleep disorders can be a sign of an infec- tion in the brain. Researchers at Aarhus University Hospital and University Hospital Clinic de Barcelona have investigated the dopamine - producing nerve cells in the brain that are part of the immune system of people who suffer from sleep disorders – particularly during the REM phase. Their brains were found to be lacking in dopamine.
Healthy people are relaxed and lie still during the dream phase of sleep but those with rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, RBD, undergo a disturbed sleep and punch, kick or shout in their sleep.
“ These patients have an infection in the brain where the dopamine - producing nerve cells are found, ” ex- plained one of the researchers, Morten Gersel Stokholm from Aarhus University and the PET center at Aarhus University Hospital.
This is groundbreaking research because nobody has previously proved that there is a connection between a brain infection and the risk of developing Parkinson ’ s disease. The findings have just been published in The Lancet Neurology.
“ The hope is that this knowledge can be used to determine which patients with sleep disorders might later develop Parkinson ’ s disease, ” said Stokholm.
“ At the same time, it is also knowledge that can be helpful when it comes to developing drugs that can prevent or arrest the development of diseases. ”
Sleep disturbance often hits people between the ages of 50 and 70 and is more common among men than women – as is Parkinson ’ s disease, which also strikes the same age group and also shows the same gender bias.

Announcements, Meetings and How to Reach Us
Barbara McBeth in memory of Ruth Buchs

Ruth M. Eastman in memory of Ruth Buchs  

Is There Treasure In Your Driveway?
You can stop paying insurance and registration—and get a tax deduction.
Donate your car, truck or boat to PNMD. Just call: 877-999-8322

Be sure to tell the operator that you wish to donate your car to Parkinson Network of Mount Diablo. Or just use this link for our dedicated online donation form:
If you have any questions, call the vehicle donation program at 877-999 8322.
Or contact Howard Zalkin at 

The December Meeting

Our December meeting is all about celebrating the holidays. We will have our regular support groups as always but there will be no speaker for December. We will however be having a tasty holiday lunch and plenty of time to celebrate support, friendships and the holidays. Please be sure to join us!
    General Meeting Information:

Board Meeting:
First Monday of each month, 10:15A.M. Hillside Covenant Church, 2060 Magnolia Way, Walnut Creek.

General Support Group Meeting:
The Parkinson Network of Mt. Diablo Support Group meets on the third Saturday of every month, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at Grace Presbyterian Church, 2100 Tice Valley Blvd., Walnut Creek. All are welcome and there is no charge. No RSVP’s needed.

Here is the agenda:

9:00 to 10:15 a.m. – Three concurrent Support Group meetings:
Men with Parkinson’s Disease Only: For men newly diagnosed or who’ve had PD for years: time to share, laugh, and learn from each other. Meeting location is the Fireside Room at Grace Church. Contact person is Gregg Riehl ( at (925) 254-8349.
Women with Parkinson’s Disease Only: For women newly diagnosed or who’ve had PD for years: time to share, laugh, and learn from each other. Meeting location is the Library at Grace Church. Contact per- son is Sandy Clark ( (925) 944-0769.
Caregivers Only: Caregivers discuss issues relating to their roles. Meeting location is the Sanctuary at Grace Church. Contact person is Norman Kibbe ( (925) 935-9322 .

10:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.-Assemble in Oak Room. The PNMD Library, with books, flyers, videos, etc. is open at this time. Sunrise Bistro will provide refreshments that will be underwritten by Acadia Pharmaceuticals 10:30a.m. to 10:45a.m. Welcome new members announcements

10:45 a.m. to 11:45a.m. (In Oak Room) Guest speaker: Dr. Marylyn Stebbins. See her info above.

11:45 a.m. –noon-Q&A, Wrap up: General questions may be directed to Howard Zalkin at (925) 939-4210 ; Lance Gershen, Program Chair (925) 932-1028; or Sandy Mitchell, Asst. Program Chair (925) 687-3976. Web site: 

Contact Us

General Information Phone No.: (925) 939-4210
Chairs: HowardZalkin(925)939-4210
Lance Gershen (925) 932-1028
Past President: Ronalee Spear (925) 284-2189
Vice Chair: Ken Kuhn (925) 588-9837
Secretary: Betsy Fowler (925) 314-1875
Treasurer: Amy Van Voorhis (925) 932-5036
Membership: Ken Kuhn (925) 588-9837
Communication: Ronnie Wanetick (925) 933-6357
Program Chair: Lance Gershen (925) 932-1028,or email
Asst. Program Chair: Sandy Mitchell (925) 687-3976
Parkinsonian Services: Greg Riehl (925) 254-8349
Librarian: Abraham Raja (925)681-0315
Community Outreach: Michael Grupp (925) 451-3389
Administrative Coordinator: Krystin Radke (925) 336- 9554
Tremble Clefs: Michael Grupp (925) 451-3389
Board Mtg.: Open to all members.
Caregiver Services: Norman Kibbe (925) 935-9322
DBS: Art Fowler:(925) 314-1875
Donations and Memorials: Please mail to P.O. Box 3127, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
Newsletter Editor: Randolph Segura (925) 872-1927 Please email submissions by the 15th to:
Disclaimer: This newsletter is published to increase awareness of problems related to Parkinson’s Disease. Neither PNMD nor its members make any warranty or assume any responsibility as to the accu- racy, completeness or usefulness of any information presented. The editor’s opinions are strictly his own.