Long before dementia was given media attention in the 1990s, BRACE was drumming up support for dementia research. BRACE’s three main aims are to:

  • Provide funding for medical science to understand the causes of dementia in its various forms

  • Achieve earlier diagnosis of dementia which would give treatments and knowledge of prevention a greater chance to make a different

  • Find new and even more powerful treatments, and ultimately a cure

Dementia describes is a set of symptoms caused by either an injury or a disease (most commonly, Alzheimer’s) and usually affects your speech & language skills, memory, as well as mood and behaviour - it all depends on the area of the brain affected.

The main types of dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Over 500,000 people in the UK have dementia caused by the disease. If current stats and trends are anything to go by, this number will keep increasing, but BRACE is determined to reverse the trend. Alzheimer’s is a physical disease that affects the brain’s nerve cells that connect to each other. Proteins build up and form abnormal structures called ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ which causes nerve cells to die and brain tissue being lost. Ultimately this stops signals going from cell to cell. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease which means more and more symptoms show, and their effects get worse and worse. For example, forgetting simple things like names and addresses, can end up costing someone their speech function, and ability to move.

The second most common type of dementia is Vascular Dementia (VaD), which is accountable for nearly 20% of cases. This is when blood vessels become diseased and blood supply to parts of the brain is reduced, which makes brain cells die, thus affecting one’s memory, speech and reasoning.

At least 10% of people with dementia are diagnosed with mixed dementia - a combination of Alzheimer’s and vascular disease.

Research, impact and major achievements

BRACE funds pilot projects which aim at discovering new and promising angles of research into dementia. A recent example is the RADAR trial, which was run through multiple centres, and tested the potential of repurposing blood pressure medicine known as ‘losartan’, and can therefore slow the progression of Alzheimer’s as it improves blood flow by altering chemical pathways which usually cause brain cell damage and shrinkage.

The charity has also provided key support to the South West Dementia Brain Bank over the last 30 years. This is a crucially important platform for both UK and international dementia researchers as it provides tissue samples which can be tested on in labs. These samples have also been used to develop important international diagnostic guidelines for cerebral amyloid angiopathy - which is when amyloids (a kind of protein) build up in the arteries in the brain, and increases one’s risk of stroke and dementia.

There are many other success stories, and articles to read up on the phenomenal work BRACE is up to. The best place to check these out is in their Achievements and Impact section of their website.

Important dates

3rd May - Dementia Matters Conference

21st September - World Alzheimer’s Day

How to get involved

Who knew one could help the fight against dementia AND win money for yourself at the same time? BRACE runs a lottery each week, which only costs a supporter £1 per week, and the winner gets 25% of the fund, and the rest goes towards world-class dementia research. It’s a win-win really - get yourself over to the BRACE Lottery section of their website for further details.

Companies of all sizes and their staff wishing to get involved can raise funds for, and spread awareness of, dementia, in lots of fun and unique ways. The charity can send speakers and create activities to increase awareness amongst staff, which will also help them understand and allow them to make preventative lifestyle choices. In terms of fun activities, the BRACE staff can support your company in having your own Christmas jumper day, or get staff involved in sporting events. Here’s their “stories and ideas" section of their website for any inspiration.

Address

The BRACE Charity Office, Elgar House, Southmead Hospital
Bristol
BS10 5NB

Contact Number

01174 144831