LAKELAND, Florida – More than a half a million Floridians are living with Alzheimer's disease.

  • Annual Alzheimer's walk held in Lakeland
  • One of the participates was Wesley Barnett 
  • Carol Jenkins Barnett, his mother, has early onset Alzheimer's

It's a form of dementia that attacks the brain and causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior.

Nearly 1,000 people came out to the Alzheimer Association's annual "Walk to end Alzheimer's in Lakeland on Saturday.

One of the walkers was Wesley Barnett, the son of philanthropist Carol Jenkins Barnett, whose father founded Publix.

Carol Jenkins Barnett has early onset Alzheimer's.  She announced she had the disease in 2016.

"She's doing well, Wesley Barnett says. "She's still got all, you know, most of her faculties. Her memory is really good. She struggles more with some motor functions and also vision is something she's really been affected with."

She diagnosed with the disease when she was 59 years old.

"She has trouble kind of perceiving depth sometimes so she's very ginger when she's moving around because of that vision issue," Wesley Barnett says.

Wesley Barnett says his mother is spending a lot of time with his young daughter Raleigh, and doing yoga to stay busy.

"It hit all of us very hard especially her. No one expects this to come into their family," he says.

The disease gets worse and worse over time and, so far, there isn't a cure.

"It starts very slow but it would be like me losing my keys but doing it every single day," Alzheimer Association program manager Stefanie Wardlow says.

Wardlow says the typical life expectancy after diagnosis is four to eight years but some live for 20 years.

Wesley Barnett says even though his mother is on this year's Forbes List of World Billionaires, it still may not save her.

"It’s doesn’t matter how much money you have, there's no way to buy a cure or buy a treatment. It's just going to keep progressing and lucky for her it's been rather slow but it will keep progressing until we can get the research together to figure out why it’s happening and how we can stop it," he says.

This year’s walk in Lakeland generated more than a $153,000 and that money will go toward support services, care, and funding research to find a cure.

For more information about the disease, visit

And if you have a family member fighting the disease or you believe you have it and are unsure, you can always call the 24/7 helpline 1-800-272-3900.