November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, and it attacks a person's memory and ability to function.
One in seven people over the age of 45 report confusion or memory loss that’s happening more often or getting worse.
Sharon Masciale was diagnosed with Alzheimer's five years ago.
“It's dangerous when you're working in the kitchen and you forget the gas, you forget those eggs that are boiling, and you're walking into the other room. I think we wander. I don't stay as focused and that has affected my life,” she said.
Masciale said it's hard living with the disease, but she has ways of coping.
“I feel like preparation and regimented schedules and lifestyle, I think that's important,” she said.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, in 2020, 580,000 people age 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s in Florida. By the year 2025, that number is expected to jump to 720,000; a 24 percent jump in five years.
Masciale said she realizes things could get worse, but she's ready.
“I see it progressing. And what keeps me together is holding onto that preparation part. You have to work at it, and I think that's what keeps me going, is being able to maintain my present," she said.
With so many people retiring in Southwest Florida, and with age being the biggest risk factor for dementia, that means our numbers in the area could be higher than other parts of the state and country.