Now 2 Autonomic Dysfunction Specialists in Northern CA

Finally, there’s a neurologist who is an autonomic specialist in the Bay Area.  His name is Safwan Jaradeh, MD.  He’s at Stanford.  (Neurology appointment phone is 650-723-6469.  New patient appointment phone is 650-725-5792.  New patients will need a referral from a neurologist.)  He used to be at the Medical College of Wisconsin.  A patient’s family who saw him in WI wrote a very positive review of him on POTSplace (

The only other MD in the Bay Area who sees patients with autonomic dysfunction is a cardiologist named Karen Friday, MD.  She’s at Stanford (Cardiology) and the Palo Alto VA.  A couple of years ago one of our MSA group members was receiving inadequate treatment for OH (orthostatic hypotension) from a movement disorder specialist.  The group member took her husband to see Dr. Friday and was very impressed with the care received.  Also, someone wrote a positive review of her on POTSplace.

Years ago, someone told me:  “Many of the autonomic specialists are cardiologists rather than neurologists, because of the close association between the autonomic system and blood pressure.”

If any of you are dealing with or have dealt with SEVERE symptoms of orthostatic hypotension and you are receiving excellent care for these challenging symptoms from your neurologist, please let me know.  Thus far, I’ve only heard negative stories about neurologists and OH treatment.


PS. There are three directories of autonomic specialists in the US:

MDs know limits of treatment and the need to plan

Some of us were talking at last night’s caregiver support group meeting about whether MDs, in general, seem in favor of or opposed to feeding tubes, and whether MDs will honestly answer a family’s question as to their advice as to what they’d do if their family member lost the ability to swallow.

There’s an article in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal ( about one person’s view of these matters.  The author, a retired physician, believes that doctors tend to choose less treatment at the end of life for themselves, and are reluctant to impose their “views on the vulnerable” when families ask “what would you do?”

Here’s an interesting statistic about CPR from the article:  “A study by Susan Diem and others of how CPR is portrayed on TV found that it was successful in 75% of the cases and that 67% of the TV patients went home. In reality, a 2010 study of more than 95,000 cases of CPR found that only 8% of patients survived for more than one month. Of these, only about 3% could lead a mostly normal life.”

Here’s a link to the article:  (there may be a charge to view the full article)

Life & Culture
Why Doctors Die Differently
Careers in medicine have taught them the limits of treatment and the need to plan for the end
By Ken Murray
Wall Street Journal
February 25, 2012

It’s worth reading.

“Never too soon to talk about the future; it can be too late quite suddenly”

Local support group member and volunteer Denise is reading the book How to Care for Aging Parents. She is offering occasional reports on the highlights of the book. She has read the first chapter, which is about starting the conversation about future care. Here are Denise’s take-aways, which are not specific to adult children talking with aging parents about the future.



Denise’s Notes to

Chapter one – “Get Ready, Get Set”
of the book “How to Care for Aging Parents”
by Virginia Morris and Robert Butler

“It is never too soon to talk about the future, although it can become too late quite suddenly.”

Wise words from the authors. Chapter one, ‘”Get Ready, Get Set,’” begins by addressing how hard it can be to get these conversations started with any family member.

If you’re having difficulty, they suggest several ways of coming at the topic indirectly. Try, for example: “There was an interesting article in the paper about in-home care. Have you thought about what kind of help you’d feel comfortable with or where you’d like to live?”

It’s usually necessary to revisit topics you’ve already discussed. It’s not worth arguing between you. If you are repeatedly unsuccessful, ask another family member or professional to speak with them. As frustrating as it is, sometimes a person is more willing to have that conversation with another of their offspring, a sibling or in-law, even someone outside the family like a doctor, lawyer, or clergy.

If you get them talking, remember it’s all about them. Understand that they have fears about growing old, feeble, incompetent, and being a burden. Don’t be judgmental or dismiss their hopes. Instead, find out where they see themselves living, how they want to handle daily life when they can no longer drive, cook, bathe or dress, and if they are okay with relocating. Try to get a picture of their expectations. Your ultimate goal is to make decisions they will feel comfortable with so transitions will be easier for them to accept and adapt to.

You won’t be able to cover everything in one go or finalize some arrangements until a crisis occurs. If you’re already facing a crisis and haven’t yet made arrangements, the authors do an excellent job of identifying local resources to put services in place. Of course, they would prefer you familiarize yourself with these ahead of time.

* Area Agency on Aging – Call the Eldercare Locator 800-677-1116 or

* Local Senior Centers, Community Groups and Religious organizations (Jewish Family Services, United Way)

* Local Hospital Discharge Planner

* Employee Assistance Plan eldercare information and referral (check with your HR department)

* State Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s Office represents residents of nursing homes and their families

* Medicare’s web site and hotline 877-267-2323 or

* Foundations and Organizations for a particular disease

* Geriatric Care Manager to assess needs or take over care almost entirely

* 211 – Many states are establishing human service information lines contacted by dialing 211.

If you’’re wise enough to be talking ahead of time you are in a good position to purchase long term care insurance, get on wait lists for special services, nursing facilities or senior housing communities; file paperwork requiring lead time, like VA benefits; prepare wills, powers of attorney, advance directives; protect assets; sign HIPAA forms; choose a health care proxy; or remodel a home to prevent falls.

All that advance planning produces a mountain of paper. The authors have an extensive checklist of documents and information to gather and file where family members can lay hands on them easily. Someone should organize them and keep them that way – and it doesn’t have to be you! Enlist the help of anyone you trust with personal documents who has the inclination and ability.

The remainder of the chapter are practical tips for keeping track of someone else’s healthcare details. This is especially important for long-distance caregivers. With at least 1/3 of family caregivers at least an hour away (usually more), their special circumstances are specifically addressed. Amid the list of good advice there are several suggestions as to who might be enlisted to keep an eye on things, including neighbors or relatives living nearby; post office, gas and electric companies, and people who deliver home-bound meals are sometimes trained to watch for trouble at homes where elderly people live alone; even a bank manager who could call you if accounts are being drained or sitting idle (indicating bills are not being paid).

Primary of this practical advice is to have a back-up plan for the primary caregiver. Arrange for someone else to step in on short notice, for your parent to go to a senior center or adult day-care center, or for her to go to a senior residence for a temporary stay. Too many caregivers don’t have a Plan B and are caught in dire straights when life takes an unexpected turn.

Caregiver guilt (excerpts from a book on caregiving)

This short article on caregiver guilt is an excerpt from the book Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness: Common Sense Caregiving (  The author is Gary Joseph LeBlanc.  The article is from a recent issue of Preserving Your Memory magazine.

This excerpt summarizes the article:

“Try not to berate yourself about areas in which you think you may have failed. Instead, focus on all the positive things you accomplished along the way. Think of the enhanced quality of life you single-handedly brought to your loved one. Remember, you will remain in their heart forever.”

The full article is copied below.



Caregiver Voices
Coping with Caregiver Guilt
Preserving Your Memory
By Gary Joseph LeBlanc
Summer 2011

Guilt is an overpowering and complicated emotion but appears to have a purpose in the life of human beings. When knowing we’ve done something wrong, by all means, we should experience a touch of shame.

If you are a caregiver there will be times when waves of guilt will wash right over you. There doesn’t have to be any wrongdoing to cause this. The simple reason is that you care so deeply that you never feel adequate performing this role.

For example, you may finally get a chance to do something for yourself. Let’s say you go out to get an overdue haircut. The whole time you’re sitting in the salon chair you can’t stop thinking about something bad happening while you are away. You rush straight home, instead of taking advantage of the rare and well-deserved respite break. Even when you find, to your relief, that all is well, you still experience that guilt monster.

Then there’s always that “little white lie.” You may be visiting your loved one at his or her adult living facility or the hospital. You need to be at work in a couple of hours, but you like to have at least one hour to yourself before you begin your shift. Suddenly you find yourself saying, “My boss asked if I could come in early today so I’m going to have to leave now.” Meanwhile, throughout your whole work shift, you once again feel guilt doing somersaults in your stomach.

There’s not a caregiver out there that doesn’t worry about whether or not the job he or she is doing is good enough. Even after your loved one has passed you will go through a stage of beating yourself up, wondering whether or not there was something more you could have done for your loved one.

The strong emotion of guilt that caregivers endure is just part of human nature. Go to a caregiver’s support group and ask all those surrounding you. They will tell you that they are experiencing or have experienced the exact same feelings. All caregivers face the same unattainable goal of sparing their loved ones the pain that comes with any disease. Everyone’s desire is to provide a compassionate passing.

Deep inside, we all believe that we, as caregivers, are to some degree responsible for what happens to our stricken loved ones in the end. Sadly, some endings can be downright cruel, not only to the one afflicted with the disease but also to the ones that have to witness the perishing.

Caregivers get hit with a double-whammy. While trying to wade through all the sadness and grievance, they get swept away by a pronounced tide of guilt. But take heart; this guilt trip will slowly start to fade, finally leaving you with just the normal amount of grief, which is bad enough.

With the passing of your loved one, life has just spun around 180 degrees. Everything you have trained yourself to do has come to a complete halt. That grueling fast pace lifestyle you lived has just stopped itself on a dime. It’s almost as if you have to learn to breathe all over again.

Try not to berate yourself about areas in which you think you may have failed. Instead, focus on all the positive things you accomplished along the way. Think of the enhanced quality of life you single-handedly brought to your loved one. Remember, you will remain in their heart forever.

Unfortunately, guilt is a normal emotion in life. These bouts of guilt you feel only prove what a caring individual you truly are.

[This is] an excerpt from Gary Joseph LeBlanc’s book, “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness: Common Sense Caregiving,” which is now available in an expanded edition. You can order the book at

“Web-Savvy Caregiving: Using the Internet to Care, Connect, and Cope”

Today, a local support group member forwarded me this magazine article on web-savvy caregiving.  The article is written by the co-author of The Web-Savvy Patient: An Insider’’s Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis (  The article was published in the magazine Preserving Your Memory, found in some doctor’s offices.  Though the magazine’s publisher is the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, the article will be of interest to more than Alzheimer’s caregivers.

The full article is copied below.


(article starts on page 10)

Web-Savvy Caregiving
Using the Internet to Care, Connect and Cope
Preserving Your Memory
By Mary Adam Thomas
Summer 2011

Individuals and families coping with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of memory loss have a lot of questions. What’’s happening to my loved one? What can I expect in the coming months and years? How can I meet my caregiving responsibilities while also taking care of myself? Does anybody out there have any idea what I’’m going through?

The answers, according to one expert, are right at your fingertips.

“Going online is such a great way to find what you need because you don’t often have the time or availability to go out looking for help when you’re providing care to someone in the home,” says Andrew Schorr, a noted patient advocate and author of “The Web-Savvy Patient: An Insider’’s Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis.” Rather than allowing yourself and your loved one to become isolated, Schorr recommends using the Web to find what you need for all aspects of caregiving.

“You’’re not the first family dealing with Alzheimer’s. None of this is new; it’’s just new for you,” Schorr explains. “So why not draw from the wisdom that’’s out there?”

But the Internet can feel overwhelming, particularly to newer computer users and to those who haven’t ever conducted online research. What are the best ways to wade through the seemingly endless number of Web pages to find what you need? And how can you distinguish helpful from potentially harmful content?

Mr. Schorr offers the following “Insider’’s Tips” to AD caregivers who are interested in becoming Web-savvy:

• Insider’s Tip #1: Define the condition.

““Watching a loved one suffer from memory loss is like having a ton of bricks fall on a family over a long period of time,”” says Schorr. “But you don’’t have to take it lying down. Knowing how much support is out there on the Web helps people pick themselves up off the floor and deal with it.” The first step, he insists, is identifying the problem before you kick off an online research project. This is especially true with memory loss, which can take many forms, each manifesting itself in slightly different ways. Make sure you have a clearly defined diagnosis from your loved one’s doctor before you begin searching for information online about it. Alzheimer’’s disease, mild cognitive impairment and brain trauma are distinct diagnoses and typically call for slightly different treatment and caregiving approaches. Before you turn to the Web, tailor your search to the precise health issue you and your loved one are facing. “Deal with the medical stuff first, then begin hunting for support networks for the patient and the family,”” says Schorr. “It’’s all there. You just have to learn how to find it so that everyone involved can continue to experience the joy of living.”

• Insider’s Tip #2: Connect with other caregivers.

““These days, there is absolutely no reason to feel alone. The online connection can be a real salvation to caregivers,”” says Schorr. Using the Web to find others who are in your shoes can be one of the greatest gifts you give yourself as a caregiver. Since opportunities to attend in-person support groups are more limited to those caring for AD sufferers, you can interact virtually with people as a way of participating in a community of like-minded people. Exchange coping strategies, share anecdotes, do a little venting. The point is to communicate with people who understand what you’’re going through. You can even continue conversations online with people you’’ve met in person at doctor’s’ offices or in support groups as a way of keeping discussions going. Ask your doctor, nurse or social worker for the Web addresses of local and/or national caregiving groups that you might explore. “”Many of us have to shift our perceptions of what makes a conversation,”” advises Schorr. “Conversations that happen online through email, social
networking sites and website chat rooms are still conversations. And it’’s that sense of community that really matters.”

• Insider’s Tip #3: Keep family and friends in the loop.

The Internet offers numerous ways for caregivers to communicate with the people they care about —not just to stay in touch but also to ask for support. Email, instant messaging, Facebook, Skype, Twitter and other tools allow caregivers to interact with others and stave off the threat of isolation. Use these easy, often free channels for casual as well as more official purposes. Write informal notes to grandchildren, exchange newsy letters with friends, and summarize the latest medical reports for extended family. Equally important, says Schorr, is using the Web as a way to manage the help of others. “It can be debilitating for caregivers to do it all on their own,” he notes. “So don’’t be shy about using some of these tools to delegate a portion of your caregiving duties to the folks who want to pitch in.” You can marshal the efforts of all those good people who want to bring meals, help with errands and give you a couple of hours away from the house.

• Insider’s Tip #4: Get to your computer regularly.

The best way to ensure that you get what you need from the Internet is to return to it as often as possible. “Carve out time for it. “Add it to the list of things you ask for help with; have someone else sit with your loved one so you can focus,”” says Schorr. “Maintaining those connections and staying engaged with the world beyond your four walls will benefit you and the person you’’re taking care of,” he adds. This is especially true if you are researching your loved one’’s condition, since online content is ever-changing and you may make new discoveries each time you return. However, Schorr cautions to establish boundaries when it comes to interacting with online communities. “Don’t get sucked into more than you can bear,” he warns. “Devote a certain amount of time to connecting and chatting with others—even if it’s just in ten-minute blocks —but honor that limit if it gets to be too much.” (If anything or anyone makes you uncomfortable, or if your online activities begin to interfere with your caregiving responsibilities, then it’’s time to re-evaluate your approach.) The Web can and should be a source of comfort and connectivity that helps recharge your caregiving batteries.

• Insider’s Tip #5: Share your story.

“The Internet is a two-way street,” reminds Schorr. “Don’’t just use it to learn from others; use it so others can learn from you.” Along your journey as a caregiver, you will make many discoveries. You find it helpful to hear about coping strategies that have proven successful for other families caring for AD patients, so why not do the same for individuals just starting down a path that’’s similar to yours? “You’’re learning as you go and you have so much to share. “It can be extremely rewarding to offer your new-found wisdom to fellow caregivers,”” says Schorr.

• Insider’s Tip #6: Protect your privacy.

Use common sense while establishing accounts and communicating with others online. Think twice before using your full name (or that of your loved one) and identifying your hometown when visiting public Web spaces. You always have the option of using an alias or a nickname for any moniker that is visible to others. But don’’t let your desire for anonymity prevent you from diving into whatever resources you can find. In The Web-Savvy Patient, Schorr writes, “”There are plenty of ways to find what you need without divulging your identify or your personal information unless you want to do so. Remember that everyone who explores the Internet in search of answers and support is in the exact same position as you and shares your interest in privacy.”” Final note: Do not ever give out credit card information or social security numbers to a non-verified source. Caring for someone with memory issues is a job characterized by uncertainty, variability and occasional loneliness. According to Andrew Schorr, that makes it a lot like life. “Sometimes it’s easy for caregivers to see a black cloud rather than the breaks in the cloud—those rays of sunshine and hope,” he acknowledges. “But the Internet offers a huge community of people who have been there and felt all those things. There are real people out there— — doctors, nurses, social workers and caregivers just like you— who want to help for free simply because they’’ve been through it. They know they can help you avoid some of that pain so that you can get to a more positive place.” Then, Schorr says, the Web-savvy caregiver can turn around and give the same gift to others.

Mary Adam Thomas, a frequent contributor to Preserving Your Memory, is the collaborative author of Andrew Schorr’’s “The Web Savvy Patient: An Insider’s Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis. More information and excerpts from the book are available at