Thesis subject

Nutrition and exercise for vulnerable older adults with cognitive problems and dementia

Project description: 
Care organisation Opella is currently implementing a concept called “Domein Overstijgend Werken (DOW)”. They call it “Thuis geven” and the aim is to support their clients and their caregivers to live at home as long as possible and thus prevent or at least postpone the necessity of admission to a care home. During this implementation a group of Opella clients (vulnerable clients with multidomain problems among which at least cognitive problems/ dementia) will be intensively monitored to investigate the effects of DOW. Within a subgroup of these clients Opella, together with Wageningen University and Alliance Nutrition in Care (Alliantie Voeding in de Zorg), will perform an additional intervention targeted at optimisation of nutrition and exercise patterns of the clients.

Aim is to investigate the effects of this complementary intervention on postponing or preventing admittance to a care institution, the number of fall incidents, physical functioning and quality of life.

Design: Prospective, controlled, non-randomized intervention study with 3 intervention groups of 120 participants each (total 360 participants):

  1. Intervention group with DOW plus nutrition and exercise intervention, located in Ede
  2. Control group with DOW, located in Ede
  3. Control group with regular care (pre-DOW), located in Wageningen, Veenendaal, Renkum, Oosterbeek

The nutrition and exercise intervention will be performed by a dietician and local sport coach. Every client will receive a personally targeted nutrition and exercise advice, adjusted to their personal situation and possibilities. The contents of the intervention will furthermore be based on the national nutritional and exercise guidelines as much as possible. Measurements will be performed at the start and after 6 and 12 months of intervention.

Main research questions (of choice):

  • What is the current nutritional status of the clients?
  • What are the associations between nutritional status, mental health, physical functioning, and fall incidents?
  • What is the effect of the nutrition and exercise intervention on the number of fall incidents, care institution admittance, physical functioning, nutritional status and intake, quality of life.


Data collection within project (e.g. anthropometric measurements in participants, perform physical performance tests); contact with participants; data entry; analysis of food consumption data; data analysis in SAS or SPSS; writing article in English.

Number of students: 1-3, only Dutch speaking because of target group of elderly participants

Start: August/September 2019, but please contact us for other possibilities

Contact: Ondine van de Rest (, Lisette de Groot ( and/or Emmelyne Vasse (

Additional information: also available as internship