a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.
synonyms: mental illness, madness, insanity, derangement, lunacy.
Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social or working life. Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65 years. People in their 40s and 50s can also have dementia. The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies, Fronto Temporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD), Huntington’s disease, Alcohol related dementia (Korsakoff’s syndrome) and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.
There are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia. Three in ten people over the age of 85 and almost one in ten people over 65 have dementia. An estimated 1.2 million people are involved in the care of a person with dementia. Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and there is no cure.
So what do you do if you suspect your loved one has dementia?
Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, which is part of the University of Tasmania’s Faculty of Health have developed a free online course, which goes for three months. It attracted more than 22,000 enrolments in 2015 and more than 70,000 people from around the world have participated over the last three years.
The MOOC model is a modern, online form of education, and Understanding Dementia has no assignments or exams and an emphasis on interaction through mediums including discussion boards.
The course is divided into three sections: ‘The Brain’, ‘The Disease’ and ‘The Person’.
“We were a bit worried that all the brain science would switch people off, but it was actually quite to the contrary, people actually found they learnt a lot from that,” Professor Vickers, Wicking Centre co-director, said.
While some university courses seem to take up huge portions of time, the Understanding Dementia course expectations require students to dedicate about three hours a week to the course. Pupils that complete the MOOC’s three units can request a certificate of completion. Despite no formal assessments, students can gage their knowledge through weekly quizzes. The accessible course generates interest in a wide range of students, including health professionals and policy makers, community and residential support staff, people interested in dementia, and people in the early stages of the disease.
“At the moment we don’t teach enough about it [generally], even in our own health courses, and it’s sort of a growing phenomenon as well, people want to know more about it,” Professor Vickers said.
Following the success of the Understanding Dementia course in recent years, the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre developed a complementary MOOC called Preventing Dementia.
The new MOOC was launched on Wednesday June 1, and Professor Vickers said it was a practical, informative way for people to learn how they could prevent dementia for themselves.
Preventing Dementia, which lasts five weeks, explores innovative research about the degenerative condition’s links to potentially modifiable factors.
Professor Vickers said it had recently been determined that about 30 per cent of dementia cases could be prevented.
If you would like some help with your loved one. We train our Support Workers on how to help manage chronic diseases so feel free to call 07 3871 3220 or email us.