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My Bert Has Alzheimer's cover

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  • 330 pages
  • 6.0 x 9.0 inches

Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Caregiver, Caring for a loved one, Caregiver Life, Progressive neurologic disorder, Caring for dementia

My Bert Has Alzheimer's
Caregiving is Living for Two
by Paula de Ronde

My Bert Has Alzheimer’s is an intimate, detailed account of a wife’s experience with her husband’s dementia. As Paula de Ronde quickly learned, life for two people — patient and caregiver - is thrown into disarray with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Ambushed by the disease, it is a journey into the unknown, but one that features an abundance of love, hope, and support.

There is no shying away from the horror of the disease, but its awfulness doesn’t strip from the experience of the powerful companions that accompany those enduring it — namely, love, laughter, and community. Thrust into the caregiver role for her other half who used to be her equal and best buddy, making all kinds of decisions together, Paula now enters a new world of uncertainty and chaos. There is no roadmap. Instead she learns that the disease is as individual as each person who contracts it.

Here is a caregiver’s poignant and revealing story of the mental, physical, and emotional stress of caring for the love of her life, her Bert, as he gives over to his neurological disease. The caregiver’s life is far from easy. Yet fueled by love, which never wanes, each step of the way is handled with grace and the help of care partners.

Alzheimer’s steals memories but also gives teaching moments. As the disease progresses Paula learns to be more tolerant, patient, compassionate and accepting of human frailties. Alzheimer’s releases an inner strength. She meets each challenge, finds a solution to each issue that arises, then passes on her new-found knowledge to others. She learns the value of having a support group. Alzheimer’s cements the old adage that laughter is the best medicine. Together she and her Bert become stronger than the disease.

With humour, compassion, wisdom, and deep feeling, she describes this slice of their conjoined lives. More than a record of the impact of a disease this is, at its essence, also a love story.

"Paula de Ronde's book, a work of incredible love and courage, is a timely look at the consequences of an unravelling disease and its demands, and the creative ways in which traversing its unyielding passage with curiosity and innovation rather than despair or fear, it can play a part in comforting the beloved patient and reshaping the caregiver's understanding of the meaning of life."

—Rachel Manley

"This book is a powerful compendium and moving account by a caregiver, Paula de Ronde, as she learns about and shares the journey she had to undertake when Alzheimer’s took the mind of her husband, Bert. ... has excelled at that difficult task of telling a painful personal story with wide appeal, giving inspiration for others, like myself, who have been, or will be, in care-giving situations."

—Rev. Dr. Barry Davies, CD - Caregiver

Paula de Ronde photo

Paula de Ronde was born on the fabled island of Jamaica. She arrived in Canada in 1967, a time of celebration for the country and for her. She completed her Master’s degree at the University of Toronto to become a librarian who would work with children, teenagers and adults for almost 30 years. In the process, she rose in the ranks to become a leader at Toronto Public Library, one of the largest public institutions of its kind in the world, and in the national and international forums of librarianship.

Her successful professional life opened volunteer opportunities to foster and advocate for a diverse number of people and causes. She passionately supported literacy and the significance of libraries to the lives of people in their communities. Her efforts for the black community in Canada are legion. Awards and recognition endorse it all. She was profiled and published in Jamaicans In Canada: When Ackee Meets Codfish, a book honouring the achievements and contributions of Canadians of Jamaican origin to their adopted home.

She married Hubertus (Bert) de Ronde, who had come to Canada from the Netherlands to build his own successful courier business. Their life together has been filled with joy including world travel that has become so extensive, it is its own story. They have shared life with two spectacular boys, living highs and lows that defy description.

Her advocacy and leadership has now taken an unexpected and dramatic shift with the contraction of Alzheimer’s by her Bert. The disease has drawn her into a cauldron of new issues from long term care to the exigencies of the disease itself. A lifetime of experience is now immersed in the most human of all her journeys as she observes, prods, enlightens and challenges the strange shadows of this unfathomable disease.

She is a 2022 Honouree: 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women.


Paula de Ronde

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