Medical examCanada’s leading newspaper, the Toronto Star, recently asked its country an important question: are we ready for rapidly rising dementia rates?

We can ask ourselves the same question too — both as a society and as individuals.

“The tide of dementia is swelling and no country will be spared,” the Star writes. “…This is not just a problem for old people. It is everyone’s problem. There is no question: if dementia doesn’t already affect you, it will someday. You could become a patient or a caregiver, or a taxpayer increasingly burdened by dementia’s spiraling costs.”

It’s a sobering warning, but the facts support it. The last few years have seen a parade of studies charting astronomical rises in the dementia rate, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Fortunately, scientists are hard at work on new methods of early detection and potential avenues toward a cure. Encouraging headlines break nearly every day. But it isn’t yet clear whether these discoveries will add up to a cure — if such a cure is indeed possible — before dementia becomes a full-fledged public health crisis.

One of the most frustrating things about the threat of dementia is that none of us know if we’re really facing it. Researchers still don’t have a strong grasp on the causes, so predicting who will ultimately develop the disease remains a real challenge.

For now, one of the best defenses against a potential dementia diagnosis is advance planning. And for those who are already in the grips of dementia, several strategies are available for more rapid action as well. Our office can help with both.

If you want to start taking steps to protect yourself against the unknown — or if you need help right now — contact the Valdosta elder law attorneys at Bennett Watson Trust, Estate & Elder Law, LLC right away.