Fred Berney proposed to his wife, Ellen, approximately a week after they met at a dance.

The two have been married for more than 50 years, and owned a video business together. But in 2014, Ellen was diagnosed with spatial Alzheimer’s disease. She has trouble drawing two intersecting rectangles, finding buttons on a remote, reading and knitting. While her eyesight is fine, her brain cannot see.

Ellen had to stop working due to her diagnosis, and, every day, Fred faces a dilemma. If he works at the video company, he confines his wife to a chair in front of the television. If he takes care of Ellen, he cannot complete projects and is unable to bring in money.

But the Berneys are not alone. Financial hardships are common among seniors as they face more health problems and limited incomes.

Frederick Uncut producer and host Heather Mongilio spoke with the Berneys at their Walkersville residence about how they met and their current financial strains.

Then co-host Wyatt Massey and features reporter Kate Masters joined Mongilio in the studio to preview this week’s issue of 72 Hours.

A new episode of Frederick Uncut comes out every Tuesday.

Podcasts are posted on and are available via iTunes, Google Play and other podcast apps.

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter:


Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter: @HMongilio.

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at

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