In recent years, a rapidly increasing collection of investigative methods in addition to changes in diagnostic criteria for dementia have followed “high-tech” trends in medicine, with the aim to better define the dementia syndrome and its biological substrates, mainly in order to predict risk prior to clinical expression. These approaches are not without challenge. A set of guidelines have been developed by a group of European experts in population-based cohort research through a series of workshops, funded by the Joint Program for Neurodegenerative Disorders (JPND). The aims of the guidelines are to assist policy makers and researchers to understand (1) What population studies for ageing populations should encompass and (2) How to interpret the findings from population studies. Such studies are essential to provide evidence relevant to the understanding of healthy and frail brain ageing, including the dementia syndrome for contemporary and future societies by drawing on the past.