For many, a cup of coffee can provide some much-needed fuel for a busy workday. A cup of Joe also brings us together for a good conversation and social therapy.

Now, new research out of Rutgers University has found that coffee may help combat both Parkinson’s disease and dementia through two compounds, including caffeine, by preventing the accumulation of a toxic protein associated with the two diseases. The other compound, EHT, is the fatty acid found on the bean’s waxy coating. The study focused on how caffeine and EHT can work in tandem in fending off the devastating outcomes of these diseases in mice.

Although the study focused on non-humans, the results of at-risk rodent subjects show that coffee can prevent the build-up of a disease-causing protein in just six months, a hopeful development that one day may lead to an advancement in treatment for the incurable diseases. It is worth noting that prior studies have shown that coffee may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s.

These kinds of studies that show a possibility of slowing or stopping the progression of the disease are huge deal since current treatments focus on symptoms and do not protect against the degeneration of the brain.

There is no shortage of hope for the many people and their families dealing with dementia. We can thank vigorous science and other technological advancements. As we learn more and gain confidence that one day dementia will be curable, we also know that quality and focused care is our current best hope – and is something we can put into practice starting now.

As an advocate of aging issues and those with dementia, I support a comprehensive approach to care that focuses on compassion and small victories. Sometimes, even a cup of coffee is just what the doctor ordered. When we can focus on smaller victories – perhaps it’s a moment between patient and family member sharing coffee and a smile – we begin to realize that our new-found perspective leaves room for more successes.

These are building blocks for meaningful relationships and compassionate care, which is sustainable and leads to a higher quality of life and satisfaction from both the patient and caregiver perspective.