Coffee lovers probably don’t need any more encouragement to indulge in a cup of joe. But a new study suggests caffeine may help stave off dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment among older women, reports HuffingtonPost.com. Researchers tracked the brain function and caffeine consumption of 6,476 women ages 65 and older, for 10 years. After considering other risks, including depression, smoking, heart disease, and alcohol intake, they found the women who drank the caffeine equivalent of about three 8 ounce cups of coffee a day reduced their risk for dementia by 36 percent. The findings don’t establish a cause and effect relationship, and it remains unclear how caffeine might help, the stimulant may block certain chemical receptors in the brain that could malfunction and impair learning and memory as people age. But Ira Driscoll, the study’s author, was nevertheless encouraged by the results. “The mounting evidence of caffeine consumption as a potentially protective factor against cognitive impairment is exciting,” she says. “Caffeine is an easily modifiable dietary factor.” An estimated 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s; one in three seniors dies with some form of dementia.