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University of Tasmania

Understanding Dementia

University of Tasmania via Independent


The 7-week curriculum is divided into three units: ‘the brain’, ‘the diseases’ and ‘the person’. It covers a range of topics including basic brain anatomy, pathology, dementia research, risk factors, the difference between normal ageing and dementia, diagnosis, medical management, living with dementia, progression and staging, palliation, behavioural and psychological symptoms, therapeutic approaches, dementia friendly communities and more.

The content is delivered by 18 experts in the field of dementia including neuroscientists, health scientists, clinicians, dementia care professionals and people living with dementia.

Participants will have an opportunity to engage with the material via video clips, activities, games, scenarios and quizzes. Furthermore, they will have an opportunity to meet an international network of peers online to discuss the key issues surrounding dementia.


Module: 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


Module: 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


Module: 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

Taught by

Prof Fran McInerney

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4.9 rating, based on 10,947 reviews

Start your review of Understanding Dementia

  • Anonymous
    The entire course is based on the misconception that human brain does the thinking instead of human mind. The understanding that human mind does the thinking process which includes remembering is extremely important. Imagine a person standing on top of...
  • Colin David Walpole

    Colin David Walpole completed this course.

    For me doing the course and its course work was a Rip Van Winkle experience. The last time I worked with people who had dementia was during the late seventies. At that time it was called Senile Dementia and Pre-senile Demetia. There were other demetias...
  • Dr David Smith

    Dr David Smith completed this course.

    The Understanding Dementia MOOC provides a thorough overview of the nature and range of dementias and especially useful strategies for working with people living with dementia. As a film maker and physiologist, I have worked on some very large multimedia...
  • Anna Spencer

    Anna Spencer completed this course, spending 25 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Understanding Dementia is a brilliant course! I initially enrolled to enable me to better understand my father, who suffers from vascular dementia, and to ensure that he has the best care possible. I found the course so engaging, that my motivation...
  • Louise Cox
    This course has been invaluable to me. My mum was diagnosed with dementia in 2017 at the age of 83. Unfortunately I lost my mother last year at the height of the pandemic in Victoria last year. I watched her physically and mentally deteriorate...
  • Mary Lou Rey

    Mary Lou Rey completed this course.

    "Undertaking the MOOC online course provided by the UTAS - Wicking Dementia Research & Education Centre, was an incredible journey for me. I had only worked briefly years ago in a Dementia Ward in a Nursing Care Facility in Queensland. I observed and...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Dementia is the leading cause of death in Australia. Since 2017 it has become the leading cause of death for women who account for 64.5% of all dementia related deaths. Currently there is an estimated 447,115 Australians living with dementia. One in ten...
  • Most of us have, have had or will have family members & friends affected by one or other form of dementia. Some of us will be affected ourselves. Even if neither of these happens to you, as a member of our community dementias still affect you. You interact with people who have dementia. Their needs influence design of public spaces.
    DO NOT MISS THIS COURSE. It is free (incredibly). It is beautifully organised & well presented. Anyone can understand the material. If you are at all intellectually curious, it will interest you for its own sake. It is also an excellent example of on-line learning at its most effective.
  • Anonymous
    This course inspired me to write a little poem about Dementia. It is called One Day at a Time. One Day at a Time I drive the only taxi in a little country town, So I get to know a lot of folks who need to get around. Each Friday Uncle Reg likes to...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    For me doing the course and its course work was a Rip Van Winkle experience. The last time I worked with people who had dementia was during the late seventies. At that time it was called Senile Dementia and Pre-senile Demetia. There were other demetias...
  • Highly recommend this course to others, especially those who may have a love one living with dementia. The course is easy to follow. Even the quiz's are easy to complete. The content covers what a carer needs to know. Awesome.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Nanette Taylor - University of Canberra Hospital The course was an excellent 'learning platform' to outline the 'normal person with some challenges' versus those persons that have possible signs of dementia and those that have been conclusively diagnosed...
  • This is a very easy to understand course for anyone interested in learning about and understanding the lives of people living with a dementia disease. It is presented in a recorded video conversation/interview style. There are scripts to read if required...
  • Patrick Goh Seng Huat
    I was extremely intrigue and surprise that I was able to grasp the learnings and remembering the names of the different areas and functions of the brain when I started with this course which propelled my continued interest to finish all the modules in...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Understanding Dementia. This review describes the brain science on dementia, the risk factors for dementia, the behavioural & psychological symptoms of dementia and therapy. Dementia is a collection of syndromes. Alzheimer's disease is known to be the...
  • I am based in the UK, and chose this course after doing a search online for a dementia related course. My mother has dementia and I wanted more knowledge in order to better support her, and to prepare myself for what the future holds. This course was easy to navigate and provided excellent content.
  • A very informative course. Very easy to follow. I enjoyed the mix of videos, games and quizzes and how they were used to reinforce learning. If you are caring for someone living with dementia or if you are advancing in years, you will find it very helpful.
  • Shane
    I found the course well organized from the anatomy and physiology sessions to differentiating the causes of dementia. This was very helpful when understanding the initial signs and symptoms' and the behavioral aspects to the disease presentation. The...
  • I enjoyed the content and the delivery of it and although it was fairly comprehensive I didn’t find it overwhelming. I found the information to be practical and current to my situation and feel it will be useful going forward. I’m looking forward to doing another one.
  • Bev Sawyer

    Bev Sawyer completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    I am 74 years old and have a family member with mild alzheimer's disease. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the disease. A friend who works in providing care, completed the course in 2017. She sent me information on the course as she knew...

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