AGOURA HILLS ( — One in three American seniors die with a form of dementia, according to a new report from the Alzheimer’s Association.

In addition, more than 450,000 people will die with Alzheimer’s in 2013 alone.

John Ringman, an associate professor of neurology at UCLA, said there are multiple reasons the country is seeing an increase in Alzheimer’s patients.

“The most important one is people are living longer. Advanced age is the single strongest risk factor of dementia. Also, I think we’re getting better at documenting it. And we don’t have effective medications that really affect the course of the disease,” said Ringman.

Susan Franklin, a loving wife of 32 years to her husband, Serge, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her late 50s.

“It’s just terrible,” she said. “But…it is what it is, right?”

Susan said the challenges to the mind-destroying disease can be overwhelming.

“I can’t drive. I can’t do things,” she said.

Serge, however, still sees Susan as the same woman he married decades ago.

“She’s still Susan to me. You remember them as how they were,” he said.

Susan and Serge are using their struggles to make a difference.

“We’re both positive individuals. We could have easily done nothing about what was happening with Susan, but we chose to become very involved with the advocacy. It may not help her in her lifetime, but it will help others,” said Serge.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association, California Southland Chapter.


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