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Understanding Dementia - Free Online Course Run by Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre @ University of Tasmania


Participants in the free Understanding Dementia MOOC will gain an increased knowledge of dementia, including its causes, symptoms and ways of responding to the needs of people living with the condition.

Course Description

The Understanding Dementia MOOC was developed by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre based in the College of Health and Medicine at the University of Tasmania. This world-leading online course is free, easily accessible and available to everyone with an interest in dementia.

The ageing of human populations across the globe has contributed to dementia being identified as one of the public health issues of the 21st century. The MOOC curriculum addresses this health issue by drawing upon the expertise of neuroscientists, clinicians and dementia care professionals from both within the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, and beyond.

Since 2013, the Understanding Dementia has received over 260,000 enrolments from all around the world. We invite you to join our community and learn about the diseases that cause dementia, how the condition affects the person with dementia, and how we can provide the best quality care.

Once the course commences, you will be able to log in to engage with the course content and activities, and share perspectives with other participants. The course is scheduled to close on 3rd May, 2021 at 5:00pm AEST.

To get the most out of this experience, you should expect to spend approximately 3 hours per week completing the course activities for the 7 weeks of scheduled content. The additional 3 weeks that the course is open is to allow you to catch up or revisit content.

The release of course content will occur at 9:00am (AEDT) on the following dates -

Module 1: Orientation - 16th February, 2021
Module 2: The Brain - 18th February, 2021
Module 3: The Diseases - 4th March, 2021
Module 4: The Person - 18th March, 2021
Module 5: Completion - 8th April, 2021 (AEST)
You can work through the content at any time of day and at your own pace within this release schedule. This includes revisiting earlier released content as needed.

Once you have completed the course, you will be eligible to download a free, personalised certificate of completion. We also offer paid enhanced certificates options in addition to the free certificate. There will be more information about this in the Completion module.

We look forward to your contribution, as an important member of the Understanding Dementia community.

Course Outline

The Brain
The Brain provides background content on basic nervous system anatomy and function, followed by a discussion of the diseases that cause dementia, current dementia research and future directions.

Nervous system anatomy
Anatomy with Body Central
Pathology of dementia
Future directions of dementia research

The Diseases
The Diseases explores differences between normal ageing and dementia, risk factors, issues surrounding diagnosis, as well as medical management.

Difference between normal ageing and dementia
Risk factors for dementia
Domains of dementia
Diagnosis of dementia
Younger onset dementia
Stages of dementia and focusing support
Medical management

The Person
The Person addresses difficulties in recognising symptoms, living with dementia, palliation, pain, dementia friendly communities, dementia inclusive design, and non-pharmacological therapies.

Insidious onset of dementia
Living with dementia
Dementia palliation
Non-pharmacological therapies
Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia
Pain and dementia
Advanced dementia symptoms and management
Dementia friendly communities
Dementia inclusive design

Related Stores

University of Tasmania
University of Tasmania

closed Comments

  • Is the course eligible for recognition of personal development hours for healthcare professionals?

  • Do you get a student card and .edu.au email with this?

    • "So, I hear you're thinking of doing that dementia course! Is it a topic of particular interest to you?"

      "Well actually, I'm just in it for the student card and education discounts!"


      Seriously though, I'm thinking no. I didn't see anything specifically for this one, but most MOOCs that I've come across don't require official enrolment etc.

    • No, you won't.

      • why is the Feb duration 7 wks but May 4 wks?

        • The February course is ā€œUnderstanding Dementiaā€ while May is ā€œPrveenting Dementiaā€. Since they are different courses, Iā€™m assuming they must have different time requirements to complete it. I would suggest clicking into the descriptions of both to see which one interests you more.

    • No, impossible

  • +8 votes

    I did this MOOC last year and found it extremely interesting and professionally delivered.

  • I think I'll sign up for it but don't expect to learn much new. My dad had Dementia and I did a ton of research on my own. The truth is, there's still so much we don't know about it. We don't know what causes it, aside from plaques and tangles, but we don't know what causes those either.

    It's a nasty disease and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.

    • So sorry to hear about your dad! It really robs people of their quality of life, especially in those last days when the time is even more precious.

      • it's tough on the carer also. But you're right. Seeing them slip away gradually is heart breaking. They're suffering and they don't even know it. Many don't know or believe they have it even when you tell them.

        • Going through this right now, I could no longer look after my mum and at xmas time we had to move her to a dementia ward. She still doesn't think she has dementia. But it's pretty advanced now.

          • @thekow: You have my condolences. How long has she had it for?

            Having seen it in my dad, I am very afraid my mum will develop it too some day, and of course, I'm afraid that I will develop it myself.

            It could be on the way as we speak. The process doesn't happen overnight. It normally takes years, even decades. But the process can't be stopped, slowed or reversed. We don't have effective treatment yet, and many/most clinical trials for new drugs have resulted in failure.

            We don't even understand how you get it, so getting advice on how to avoid it is based on hypothesis and good practice only (get plenty of sleep, engage in mental activities, interact with people often, eat leafy greens and oily fish). This is a healthy way to live regardless, but we don't know how effective it really is in warding off dementia.

    • We don't know what causes it

      We have some idea. Hint: they also referr to it as type 3 diabetes. This bloke has more to say about it:

      I zoomed in on the dementia part of the video, but I recommend watching the entire video from beginning. You will not hear this stuff from your standard issue local GP, dietitian nor many specialists because they are all years behind the latest information and science.

    • play music he likes

  • Finally.

  • ffs, some pretty weak attempts at humour here. Having lost a parent to cancer I have no issues with cancer jokes but my journey with dementia with my other parent is pretty tough going and in my opinion, significantly more of a curse.

    thanks for the link, I've enrolled and looking forward to it.

  • I think my Mum is starting to get it so Iā€™ve signed up to try and educate myself.

  • Perhaps consider complementing this course with: Preventing Dementia - starting in your 20s and 30s with lifestyle changes such as NEURO.