A new study is offering new hope in our journey for finding an answer to dementia.

The Danish study gives 10-year absolute risk estimates for dementia based on age, sex and a common gene variation. Absolute risk is a statistic showing probability of developing a disease at a specific age. The gene in question is known to play a role in interacting with cholesterol and clearing protein from the brain of individuals with Alzheimer’s.

The combination of age, sex and a common variation in the gene could identify high-risk groups, researchers found. It also was discovered that the percent of risk increased in older populations.

The hope is risk estimates can help medical professionals identify those who are high-risk and more importantly, who may benefit from early targeted prevention, or addressing those risk factors directly.

Because there is no cure for this debilitating disease, our hopes rest on medical advancement, preventative measures and quality care based on compassion. Anyone who cares for someone with dementia, or helps care for a loved one with dementia, is aware of the challenges, which can be met with the proper training and renewed perspective afforded by dementia-awareness.

The future of dementia includes advanced treatments and more preventive care. This study sheds lights on the latter.

We know that early intervention and treatment of hypertension, smoking, diabetes, obesity, depression and hearing loss can slow the development, or prevent the disease. The protein in the study is called apolipoprotein E (APOE), and is key for metabolizing cholesterol and clearing beta-amyloid protein from the brain in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

If those with a higher risk can be identified, then a targeted prevention with risk-factor reduction can be initiated by looking into those treatable conditions and addressing them. This can result in possibly delay or preventing the onsets of this disease.

These developments allow us to see into the future of dementia treatment and prevention. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but each study offers new evidence that we will one day conquer this disease.