Understand dementia and learn more about dementia care

According to the WHO, over 50 million people are affected by dementia. This figure is predicted to rise sharply, as life expectancy increases in many countries around the world. By 2030 the figure is estimated to reach over 80 million, and by 2050, over 150 million. A new diagnosis is made, on average every three seconds, with around 10 million new cases per year. Or to put it another way, it affects around 5-8% of those over the age of 60.

‘Dementia’ doesn’t refer to a specific condition, rather serving as a general term for conditions marked by the deterioration of various cognitive functions that we rely on in day-to-day life. Symptoms include memory loss, disorientation, linguistic difficulties, and the impairment of judgement.

Types of dementia and dementia stages

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s, which accounts for 60-70% of cases of dementia. There are many other types of dementia, however.

These conditions tend to pass through various dementia stages, with increasingly debilitating symptoms, culminating in end-stage dementia, at which stage those affected are often nearly totally dependent on others.

While dementia is a serious diagnosis for which there is not yet a known cure, we have made serious advances in our understanding of what causes it, how we can lessen the negative effects of symptoms, and importantly, how we can provide dementia care to improve the lives of those affected.

Dementia courses for professionals, carers, and the curious

FutureLearn offers a range of different courses aimed at healthcare professionals; the friends, families, and carers of those diagnosed with dementia; and those who are curious to learn more.

A foundation course is an introduction to dementia care aimed at carers, students, and healthcare professionals, while a course for a general audience focuses on the real stories of those suffering from rarer forms of dementia.

Two courses from Newcastle University, aimed at the friends, families, and carers of those living with dementia were recognised at the National Dementia Awards. These dementia care courses look at living well during different dementia stages, and how carers can stay connected and manage household stress.

Finally an end-stage dementia course is aimed at healthcare professionals interested in discussing best practice in the underexplored area of end-of-life care.

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