An ode to my beloved

My wife, Rhona, was my soul mate. We met on a blind date, and I knew right away that she was the one. We were married for 56 years and had three beautiful children.

But after 45 years of marriage, I began to notice her struggling. When Rhona was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, it was devastating for our entire family. I became her caregiver, coach and counselor — but most of all, every day I tried to show her my unconditional love.

Many times along my caregiving journey, I turned to the Alzheimer's Association free 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900), and they helped me through. I also became active in my local support group to connect with others who shared my experience. I even had the chance to talk about my experience as a caregiver on a local radio show, and I hope it helped others who were listening.
Rhona and I managed her disease together for 11 years. For better or worse, I would not have had it any other way — Rhona was the love of my life. There were lots of tough moments but tender, loving ones, too. She cared for me a lot during our marriage, so it worked both ways.

For caregivers like me, the Alzheimer's Association is a lifeline. They provide professional, knowledgeable information and caring support. After Rhona lost her fight with Alzheimer's, I knew I wanted to do something more.

There is no cure, no treatment and no vaccine to prevent Alzheimer's right now. I wanted to do my part to change that, and my kids encouraged the idea. I funded a charitable gift annuity with the Alzheimer's Association in honor of my wife. It is a great way to help because you are paying yourself back while doing a good deed. I hope, through my gift, I can inspire others to help find a cure for Alzheimer's.

Fred Bernhardt is a proud father of three from Port Reading, New Jersey. In 2021, he funded a charitable gift annuity with the Alzheimer's Association in honor of his late wife, Rhona, and has dedicated his gift toward research to find a cure.