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Course review: Understanding Dementia by University of Tasmania

In this free course, learn how to approach and help people who have dementia, how to treat it, and how it occurs.

This review relates to the Understanding Dementia course I recently completed, online,  developed by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre at the University of Tasmania.

Understanding Dementia and its sister course Preventing Dementia are both featured on Class Central’s Best Free Courses of All Time list.

Why I took this course

I was introduced to the course by my wife, a former nurse, who was interested in this subject and completed the course.

She was so impressed that she suggested I would benefit from also doing the course. I must admit, there was nothing further from my mind, but at that time, my elderly  mother, 93 years old, was displaying symptoms of oncoming dementia, which my sister and brother together with myself, were having difficulties coming to terms with. These symptoms my mother was displaying had been incurring over the last few years and were now becoming quite prevalent.

I then made the decision to attempt the course. My knowledge of dementia was at the best, minimal, and the thought of doing the course, initially, was a bit overawing.

The course

Course outline: The Brain, The Diseases, and The Person

As mentioned, the course content is provided by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre through the University of Tasmania and this, in itself, was very new to me.

The course itself consisted of a series of question and answer videos on aspects of dementia by various qualified people in this field at the University.

It is important to note at this point that dementia, at the moment, cannot be cured and it was probably this aspect that made my initial understanding of these videos somewhat demanding. However, the videos were presented in such a way that this aspect was quickly overcome, and the people in the videos were clear and concise in their presentation which made listening and understanding for me, a novice, much easier.

Grading and Assessments

This was really apparent to me in the section on the brain and its function in the dementia process. Some of the terms used and explained were a ” foreign language” to me. However, after watching the videos a couple of times, and taking notes, my understanding reached a level where I could attempt the quiz with at least a minimum of confidence.

The course is made up of a number of sections, with a question and answer section and a quiz at the end of each section. A certain level must be obtained to proceed to the next level, however, every opportunity is given to allow a participant to proceed.


Having said this, one must be prepared to spend some time on this course and to have a positive attitude when doing the quizzes. The course does run for approximately 3 months, depending on how quickly one wants to complete it, and there are breaks  between each section.

Understanding Dementia Poster

My key takeaway

I found that the further I proceeded in the course, the more confident I was becoming, and my understanding about my mother’s condition, whilst not wholly, was starting to be more clearer to me.

My sister discovered I was doing the course, and after some initial questions, applied to do the course and has been accepted in the next one.

So, after some initial doubts about doing the course, I am now very grateful to have completed it, and have an understanding of what dementia is, how it occurs, how it is treated and how to approach and help people who have dementia.

Garry Semmler Profile Image

Garry Semmler

I am a retired bank officer, married with 3 children and 5 granddaughters. My wife, Lorraine and I, moved to Tasmania from South Australia following a shift with the bank. We have lived in Tassie for over 30 years now and consider we are fully fledged Tasmanians.

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