MOOCs on Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias


As awareness about dementia continues to grow worldwide, a spate of online courses aims to help both health professionals and the general public understand Alzheimer’s and related diseases. Below is a list of massive open online courses (MOOCs) that are free and open to all.

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Understanding Dementia

This nine-week course from scientists at the University of Tasmania summarizes research about dementia. It reviews the anatomy of the brain, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, and management. It also offers life and caregiving advice for dementing illnesses. First offered in 2013, its completion rate is almost 40 percent.

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Preventing Dementia

Also from the University of Tasmania comes a MOOC that covers lifestyle and health choices that may modify the risk of dementia. It is aimed at health professionals, caregivers, policy makers, and people generally interested in brain health. Over five weeks, researchers summarize evidence gleaned from epidemiological research that suggests how people might decrease their risk of developing an age-related dementing illness.

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The Many Faces of Dementia

Developed by scientists at University College, London, this four-week course helps users understand four lesser-known dementias: autosomal-dominant Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and posterior cortical atrophy. Videos of patients, their families, and dementia researchers tell stories about the challenges of living with these diseases and research projects to study them. The course targets people who work with patients, family caregivers, newly diagnosed patients, and students.

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Dementia: Understanding and Managing Challenging Behavior

This three-week course from the University of Birmingham offers tips for caregivers on how to manage behavioral disturbances—such as restlessness, agitation, and communication problems—that make caretaking for dementia a particular challenge. [Image Courtesy of University of Birmingham]

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Good Brain, Bad Brain: Parkinson’s Disease

Also from the University of Birmingham comes a three-week course in which scientists give an overview of Parkinson’s disease—its causes, treatments, and unanswered questions. This is the second unit of a three-course series offered by FutureLearn and the University of Birmingham that teaches basic knowledge about the brain, the drugs that target it, and the slow destruction wrought by Parkinson’s. [Image Courtesy of University of Birmingham]

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Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well

Researchers from Newcastle University created this four-week curriculum that advises caregivers how to connect and communicate with, as well as care for, a dementia patient, focusing on particularly difficult daily experiences. It includes a special emphasis on dementia with Lewy bodies, in which the authors have special expertise.