The Shaky Times
-- Online Edition --
March 2018
Here's what's below:

Carol Fisher: Do You Feel Apathetic?

Caffeine as a Biomarker for Parkinson's Disease

Shedding a Tear May Help Diagnose Parkinson's Disease

March Meeting Speakers

2018 Annual Dues Reminder

Donation Acknowledgments

Meetings, Announcements, and How to Contact Us

By Carol Fisher 

What is APATHY?!!!

1. Absence or suppression of passion, emotion or excitement.
2. Lack of interest or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.
3. One of the earliest signs of depression or cerebral disease.

Signs of apathy…

1. Loss of interest in family, friends, hobbies or other normal activities.
2. Lack of motivation for work or play.
3. Lack of vision for accomplishing things.
4. Filling life with worthless activities such as watching television, video games or internet surfing with no real goal in mind.
5. Feelings of frustration when around people with vision or goals.
6. Overeating or constant snacking with no interest in exercise or staying healthy or fit.
7. Less and less desire for communication or interaction.

What can be done about it?

Recently I had a conversation with a person who has PD and whom I have known ever since she was diagnosed about 8 years ago. When I asked her how she was doing she said that she had been feeling apathetic and that it really surprised her because she had never felt that way in her life before. She said something that I found incredibly insightful. She said that it doesn’t do any good to tell yourself not to be apathetic, so she knew she had to address it through the back door.

When I asked her what that meant to her, she said that she knew she had to do something to give back, to be of service, to help other people! So she got involved in a project with 2 other people that she really enjoys and respects. This project is designed to provide information and support to people who are newly diagnosed with PD. She realized that when she was diagnosed, there was no obvious person available with whom she could talk to learn about resources and strategies and to express how confused and terrified she was. She is now involved in this project and even though she feels a little overwhelmed by it some days, her happiness quotient has increased immensely!

Obviously this type of project is not everyone’s cup of tea but here are some ideas for things that might get you into the world, feeling a sense of worth, connection, service and love.

Sign up to read to kids or help them with their reading in a library, preschool or elementary school…maybe even your grandkids' school!

1. Deliver Meals on Wheels.
2. Be an occasional helper/driver/shopper for someone you know that needs extra help.
3. Be an occasional after-school caregiver for a friend, relative or neighbor who could use help with a child.
4. Volunteer at a local hospital, animal shelter, arts facility, park, museum, human rights group, church or other organization or anywhere that is meaningful for you.

Obviously, the volunteer opportunities are endless and, if you volunteer, you will most likely meet people of like mind. At this age we have spent decades learning things, being productive members of society and having lots of experiences and ideas to share. There are so many people, places and situations that need the grounding, knowledge and experience of someone like YOU!

Just start looking around and notice all of the ways that help is needed and appreciated everywhere. These are the kinds of experiences that fill our hearts, enliven our spirits and remind us of our worth.

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
Caffeine as a Biomarker for Parkinson's Disease
Researchers at Juntendo University report in Neurology the potential use of blood levels of caffeine and its byproducts as biomarkers for Parkinson's disease. The finding is promising for the development of a method enabling early identification of the disease.

There is evidence that daily caffeine consumption reduces the risk of developing Parkinson's. Now, a team of researchers led by Nobutaka Hattori from Juntendo University School of Medicine have studied how traces of caffeine in the blood, after drinking coffee, can be indicative of Parkinson's disease. The researchers found that caffeine levels are significantly lower in patients with the disease; caffeine concentrations could therefore be used as an indicator of Parkinson's, particularly in its early stages.

The researchers studied a group of 139 people, both men and women, with and without Parkinson's disease. Each person drank between 0 and 5 cups of coffee per day (except for one participant who drank more than six). Then, they checked the participants' blood serum for traces of caffeine and its 11 so-called downstream metabolites—small molecules produced during caffeine-induced metabolic processes in the human body.

The scientists found that the serum levels of caffeine and of almost all metabolites, including theophylline, theobromine and paraxanthine—caffeine's main byproducts—were lower in patients with Parkinson's disease. Although the data obtained by Hattori's team show that there is a clear relation between a person's caffeine (metabolite) serum levels and having Parkinson's disease, there was no significant association between the severity of the disease and the concentration of any of the caffeine-related substances. Also, there was no significant difference in serum levels between male and female patients (males are known to suffer more often from Parkinson's disease).

The findings of Hattori and colleagues suggest that caffeine and caffeine metabolite levels in the blood can be, quoting the researchers, "early diagnostic biomarkers for the [Parkinson's] disease"; moreover, the results "further indicated the neuroprotective effects of caffeine."

Parkinson's disease

The cause of Parkinson's disease is unclear, but it is believed that genetic and environmental factors play a role. Men are more affected than women, and people who drink tea or coffee have a reduced risk. The latter inspired Nobutaka Hattori and colleagues from Juntendo University School of Medicine to check whether caffeine levels in the blood, and levels of the byproducts (metabolites) that caffeine intake causes, can be
used as biomarkers for the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. They found that this is indeed the case.

The team of Nobutaka Hattori has now demonstrated that, following caffeine intake, the levels of caffeine and its metabolites in the blood serum are lower for people with Parkinson's, independent of the stage of the disease, implying that these levels could be used as biomarkers for the disease in the early stage.

SOURCE: Motoki Fujimaki et al. Serum caffeine and metabolites are reliable biomarkers of early Parkinson disease, Neurology (2018).
Shedding a Tear May Help Diagnose Parkinson's Disease
Tears may hold clues to whether someone has Parkinson’s disease, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, April 21 to 27, 2018.

“We believe our research is the first to show that tears may be a reliable, inexpensive and noninvasive biological marker of Parkinson’s disease,” said study author Mark Lew, MD, of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

Lew says the research team investigated tears because they contain various proteins produced by the secretory cells of the tear gland, which is stimulated by nerves to secrete these proteins into tears. Because Parkinson’s can affect nerve function outside of the brain, the research team hypothesized that any change in nerve function may be seen in the protein levels in tears.

For the study, tear samples from 55 people with Parkinson’s were compared to tear samples from 27 people who did not have Parkinson’s but who were the same age and gender. Tears were analyzed for the levels of four proteins.

Researchers found differences in the levels of a particular protein, alpha-synuclein, in the tears of people with Parkinson’s compared to controls. Additionally, levels of another form of alpha-synuclein, oligomeric alpha-synuclein, which is alpha-synuclein that has formed aggregates that are implicated in nerve damage in Parkinson’s, were also significantly different compared to controls. It is also possible that the tear gland secretory cells themselves produce these different forms of alpha-synuclein that can be directly secreted into tears.

Total levels of alpha-synuclein were decreased in people with Parkinson’s, with an average of 423 picograms of that protein per milligram (pg/mg) compared to 704 pg/mg in people without Parkinson’s. But levels of oligomeric alpha-synuclein were increased in people with Parkinson’s, with an average of 1.45 nanograms per milligram of tear protein (ng/mg) compared to 0.27 ng/mg in people without the disease. A picogram is 1,000 times smaller than a nanogram.

“Knowing that something as simple as tears could help neurologists differentiate between people who have Parkinson’s disease and those who don’t in a noninvasive manner is exciting,” said Lew. “And because the Parkinson’s disease process can begin years or decades before symptoms appear, a biological marker like this could be useful in diagnosing, or even treating, the disease earlier.”

More research now needs to be done in larger groups of people to investigate whether these protein changes can be detected in tears in the earliest stages of the disease, before symptoms start.

The study was supported by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Plotkin Foundation.

Source :Newsroom: American Academy of Neurology (AAN) / Article ID: 689917 / Released: 21-Feb-2018 1:05 PM EST
March Meeting Speakers

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Presentation: "Navigating the terrain of living with a progressive illness: Important resources you want to know about"

Speaker: Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Ms. Fodrini-Johnson is a licensed family therapist and certified professional care manager with over 32 years of experience working with elderly and special needs adults. She is the founder/CEO of Eldercare Services and a partner of the Village Plan. Locally, she is on the development team for “Lamorinda Village,” a program that helps the elderly remain living at home by providing them with support from volunteers, vendors and various service providers.

2018 Dues - Still $50

PNMD annual dues are still $50 per household. About 125 of you have paid for 2018, but many have not.

If you're ready to pay your dues online, you can do so on the PNMD website right here . You can use your credit card or PayPal through our easy PayPal portal.

If you'd rather mail your dues, send your check to PNMD, P.O. Box 3127, Walnut Creek, CA 94598-0127.

If you are unsure whether you've paid for this year already, contact Sara Allen by phone or email - 925-296-0221 or

Thank you for supporting PNMD!
Donation Acknowledgements
Thank you for supporting the work of the Parkinson's Network of Mt. Diablo!

  • Calvin & Geri Auten
  • Dilip & Pragnya Parekh
  • Joan Booty
  • Dan & Jeanne Brown
  • Enid & Bill Satariano
  • Ronnie & Larry Wanetick
  • Ron & Betsy Henderson
  • Joseph F. Herger & Vickie M. Smith
  • James &Sheila B. Boodell
  • John & Carol Harkin

In memory of Carol Bolling:
  • Walt Bolling

In memory of Leonard H. Gibbons :
  • JoAnn Murray
  • Grace Gustilo
  • Sandra G. Baden
  • Nancy G. Smith
  • Justin Baden
  • Diane Cadell
  • Marion P. Donato
  • Ann M. Cooper
Announcements, Meetings and How to Reach Us

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

Important: 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 Abraham Raja at
Library Corner

Dear Members and Friends,

The library is open during the monthly meetings. Please have a look at the books, DVDs, brochures and articles on the table of interest to you. You may borrow a book for a month. If you have any suggestions regarding books or topics on Parkinson's or related subjects that you think others might enjoy, give the Librarian the name or topic and it will be researched and added to the library. The library also accepts donations of books. Sharing helps everyone and widens our network.

Janice Ransley, Library Chair

The Tremble Clefs
Mt. Diablo Tremble Clefs will improve the volume and clarity of your voice through enjoyable free weekly singing sessions. Don’t let your voice fade away. We meet Thursdays 1:30-3:30 pm in Lafayette. For more information please contact chair
Michael Grupp at (925) 451-3389.
     General Meeting Information:

Board Meeting:
First Monday of each month, 10:15 a.m.. Hillside Covenant Church, 2060 Magnolia Way, Walnut Creek. Open to all members.

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 Derek Ransley (925) 944-0162.

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 person 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. Bill Clinch, Moderator, will introduce new members and make announcements.

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. (Oak Room) Guest speaker (See information above)

11:45 a.m. to noon Q&A, Wrap up.

General questions may be directed to Abraham Raja at (925) 939-4210 ; Lance Gershen, Program Chair (925) 932-1028.

Tri-Valley (Pleasanton) Support Group Meeting:
Meets second Saturday of the month, year-round, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Pleasanton Senior Center, 5353 Sunol Blvd., Pleasanton. This is a support group and learning session that is open to all who want to learn about PD. Facilitators are Norman & Jackie Bardsley, (925) 831-9940.

Contact Us

Web site: 
General Information Phone No.: (925) 939-4210
Co-Presidents: Abraham Raja (925) 381-0688 or
Lance Gershen (925) 932-1028 or
Past President: Howard Zalkin (925) 785-6670 or
Secretary: Beth Donegan (949) 680-9133 or
Treasurer: Amy Van Voorhis (925) 932-5036 or
Membership: Ken Kuhn (925) 588-9837 or
Health and Wellness Program: Cathy Hostetler (925) 932-5285
Volunteer Coordinator: Cathy Hostetler (925) 932-5285 or
Information Technology: Sara Allen (925) 296-0221 or
Librarian: Janice Ransley (925) 944-0162 or
Program Chair: Lance Gershen (925) 932-1028 or
Tremble Clefs: Michael Grupp (925) 451-3389
Caregiver Discussion Group: Norman Kibbe (925) 935-9322 or
Women's Discussion Group: Sandy Clark (925) 944-0769
Men's Discussion Group: Derek Ransley (925) 944-0162 or
Donations and Memorials: Please mail to P.O. Box 3127, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
Newsletter Editor: TBD Please email submissions by the 15th to: Janet Kennedy at
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 accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information presented. The editor’s opinions are strictly his own.